Scenes from Paddle the Navesink Day, captured by Peter Lindner. (To enlarge the photo display, start it, then click the embiggen symbol in the lower right corner. To get back to redbankgreen, hit your escape key.


Bill and Jean Trudell were not friends with Ann Halligan before Saturday. Then, all of a sudden, a couple of kayaks brought them together.

By day’s end they were chatting over burgers at Monmouth Boat Club, retracing their strokes on the Navesink earlier.

The Trudells, of Hazlet, now have a paddle pal in Halligan, who lives in Rumson. All three, thanks to Saturday’s first Paddle the Navesink Day, are now leaning towards buying kayaks and hitting the water more often. None of the three had ventured out on the river that way before Saturday.

By that measure, you can call Paddle Day a success, and Cindy Burnham, who co-founded the river celebration, certainly did.

“Everybody told me it was a huge success,” she said, “and it really was.”

The event, featuring rowing and paddling lessons, tours and local riverfront recreation information, drew about 300 people, Burnham estimated. One hundred-eighty-seven people were registered to have gone out on the river for a kayak ride, she said.

“It was crazy,” Burnham said.

Most of the action was concentrated at Maple Cove, where trained instructors shuttled people out on the river for a quick look-see of the Navesink via kayak. Local clubs and organizations handed out information and gave tours of the area.

It also was a chance to rally support, but not the recreational kind.

Congressman Frank Pallone and Freeholder John D’Amico, who are up for re-election this year, were spotted bending the ears of potential voters. John Curley, a former Red Bank councilman and current county freeholder, who still has two years left on his term, also made an appearance — more than any current council member can say, Burnham noted with disappointment, after she extended a public invitation to join in the event.

Nearby, at Navesink River Rowing Club, rowing demos put people through a test of endurance.

One woman, from Eatontown, who goes only by BK, said she’d tried all forms of watersport except for rowing. When she gave it a shot Saturday, she found it probably wasn’t her kind of activity — a little too much strain on the muscles and the brain, she said.

“It was very hard. There was a lot to remember,” she said. “It’s something I wanted to try and this seemed like an opportunity to do it.”

That was the entire purpose of the day, Burnham said — to expose people to what Red Bank has to offer at the waterline.

In many cases it did.

“It was great,” Halligan said. “It’s nice to have a celebration of the river.”