Two volunteer firefighters with the Freeport Fire Department took an unexpected splash Sunday morning in Freeport Creek when their canoe overturned as they led a fundraiser for youth activities.
Clarence Bryan, 26, and Herson Martinez, 29, both of Freeport Village, laughed off the sudden turn of events, saying it was all for a worthy cause as water dripped from their drenched bodies.
“Thank God we can swim,” said Bryan after the pair completed a quarter-mile race that started and ended at Cow Meadow Park, a 171-acre waterfront park in the village.
Freeport Mayor Robert Kennedy said the event was good for the community, and that he expected plenty of people to participate in several races throughout Sunday.
The contest, called Great Freeport Canoe Race, features daylong exhibition canoe races with winners receiving medals for their sportsmanship, village officials said.
In all, there were eight races with roughly 55 participants from as far as Pennsylvania, organizer Marianne Endo said. Hundreds of dollars were raised.
Freeport resident Nicole Christensen, 44, said she canoes in the event every year to help give back.
“I love my community,” she said.
Village resident Maya Kazanjian, 37, said she comes each year to help bring Freeport together.
“I’m happy the donated proceeds help the youth,” she said.
The day is a tradition that started about four decades ago, village officials said.
The Freeport Chamber of Commerce and the Freeport Police Athletic League sponsor the event, and all funds raised will go toward supporting various youth programs and activities.
“This is a great thing for Freeport to have. It’s a community-related event and an example of how the community embraces the connection to its waterfront,” said state Sen. John E. Brooks (D-Seaford).