Laconia Daily Sun | Roger Amsden | 1/2/16
FRANKLIN — First Day Franklin went on as usual on New Year's Day despite ice which had formed in the lower part of the Winnipesaukee River, limiting the number of kayaks which took part in the event.
Only a few kayaks made it through the lower section of the river, from Cross Mill Road in Northfield and into Trestle View Park in downtown Franklin, while an estimated two dozen kayaks took to the upper part of the river, from from Route 140 in Tilton to the Merrimack Valley Railroad station in Northfield.
The traditional New Year's Day kayaking event on the Winnipesaukee River has been hosted for 36 years by the Merrimack Valley Paddlers, who over the weekend advised members that ice conditions for both launching and landing kayaks were not very good.
Among those completing runs on the lower part of the river were Marty Parichand, owner of the Outdoor New England store in Franklin, which held its grand opening on New Year's Day, and his buddies Matt Melcher of Maine and Dominic Capozzi of Massachusetts, as well as Tom Currier of Franklin.
Currier said it was his 15th straight year of New Year's Day kayak runs and that conditions were "great but a little icy." He said that in recent days the flow of the river had been increased from 100 cubic feet per second to 300 cubic feet per second by the Department of Environmental Services which provided better conditions for those willing to risk making the run.
Parichand and his friends have been making the run for five years and put in at Cross Mill Road for the winding run into downtown Franklin. "It was fun," said Parichand, whose business offers kayak sales and who hopes to make downtown Franklin a destination for recreational kayakers all year long.
Ken Norton of the Friends of the Winnipesaukee River said that he put in off from Route 140 with about 20 other kayakers who paddled into downtown Tilton's Rivefront Park.
"It was really challenging this year due to significant ice buildups," said Norton, who said that the state's Dam Bureau has kept flows to a minimum in recent months in response to drought conditions, resulting in large ice buildups.
"Normally the flow is about 800 cubic feet per second in the lower part of the river for the New Year's run. The state has really cooperated with the groups using the river and we're grateful for that," said Norton, who expressed support for efforts to make Franklin a destination kayakers.