FISHING FOR PUMPKINS: Hundreds of paddlers hit the water during the Fort Langley Canoe Club’s Voyageur Cranberry Races on Saturday. One fun part of the competition was a requirement to pick up pumpkins that had been dropped into the Bedford Channel from the Jacob Haldi Bridge. (R.G. Anderson photos)

PHOTOS: Fort Langley’s canoe races includes dropping pumpkins

A fun, harvest-themed race day on Saturday featured orange gourds and cranberry juice.

Flinging dozens of pumpkins off the Jacob Haldi Bridge in Fort Langley, into the Bedford Channel sounds like potential vandalism.

At the very least, it’s mischief. Or is it?

Not this time.

This weekend, volunteer pumpkin pushers leaned over the edge of the bridge, and literally had a blast intentionally and strategically dumped orange gourds into the water below.

They were part of the Fort Langley Canoe Club’s annual Cranberry Festival Voyageur Races – which was held in conjunction with the Cranberry Festival happening in the centre of the village on Saturday.

A few hundred paddlers (a total of 24 teams of 10 each) took part in a day of racing on the Fraser River.

Teams came from Vancouver, Cultus Lake, Harrison Hot Springs, the Sunshine Coast, and Squamish to participate alongside the Fort Langley Canoe Club, Cheryl Macintosh explained on behalf of the host team.

“Thankfully it was a dry warm day,” Macintosh said.

Each team competed in three races. The first two, she elaborated, were around the marks, with each team trying for their best combined time, ultimately earning themselves in A, B, or C division for the final race.

“There is much bumping of boats as the teams race each others around the marks,” she explained.

But where the fun really began was in the final race, Macintosh said, with said pumpkins and some juice.

The paddlers have to retrieve said pumpkins from the water during a furious paddling expedition around the channel, from marker to marker to marker.

Among other fun and challenging activities incorporated into this race, each crew had to have a member jump out of the canoe, pick up a glass of cranberry juice on their paddle, then run a short distance to a spot where they exchanged the unspilt glass of juice for a bag of cranberries. The teammate then had to run back to the canoe, jump in, and as a crew get back out into the channel.

Not an easy feat, especially given the heavy traffic along the shore, Macintosh said.

“Both these events are great fun for paddlers and spectators alike,” she added. “Everyone is winners in these races as the goal is to have fun.”

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