Boat ramp dedication May 20
Several weeks back Darrel Zimmerman saw something unusual while visiting the new De Soto boat ramp.
"I went out to check the boat ramp, and looked up to see a kingfisher, which are pretty rare," he said.
There is a lot of raw nature to be observed on the Kansas River, which is now more accessible with the recent completion of new boat ramps in De Soto and Edwardsville. Zimmerman is helping organize a day of activity May 20 to mark the ramp's construction.
Activities will start with a ribbon cutting of the new De Soto ramp north of 79th Street in the West Bottoms.
A public float on the river will launch from De Soto at 10 a.m. and make its way downstream for a ribbon cutting at the Edwardsville ramp at 3:30 p.m. Along the way, floaters will stop on a sandbar to enjoy a picnic lunch, Zimmerman said.
Rental canoes, paddles and life jackets can be reserved from the Friends of the Kaw at (913) 963-3460. A shuttle bus will be available to take people from site to site at $2 per person with children younger than 5 riding free.
Also planned are solo and two-person canoe and kayak races, which are set to start at 11 a.m. Entry fees are $5 with a registration deadline of May 15. There is also a raft race, which will start an hour earlier, but Zimmerman said he didn't think there would be much participation with the late announcement.
Those wanting more information can call Zimmerman at (913) 209-4446 or John Broman at (913) 927-1479.
"The exciting part is the public float and picnic activity," Zimmerman said. "They can spend some time on the sandbar cheering on whomever they know in the race.
"If they spend some time on a sandbar, they might find Indian artifacts and buffalo bones."
The De Soto ramp was built with volunteer labor provided by many local construction contractors. Zimmerman said he didn't know who would cut the ribbon, but De Soto City Councilwoman Betty Cannon deserved much of the credit for the ramp's completion in recruiting that professional volunteer help.
"Everybody could talk about getting it done, saying 'Wouldn't it be nice," but she's the one that got it done," he said.
Zimmerman, who organized a raft race from Eudora to De Soto in the 1970s for the De Soto Jaycees, said there would be a raft race next year for De Soto's sesquicentennial celebration.
"It's going to happen next year," he said. "The main thrust is to challenge all the different parks and recreation groups in Johnson County.
"Number one, there should be people in those groups interested in that activity. And two, it would give people in all the communities experience with the Kansas River."