For the fourth year running, Kings Park students are working to bring the Smithtown community together to raise funds for the upkeep and improvement of Nissequogue River State Park. All residents are invited to participate July 13 in the annual canoe, kayak and paddleboard regatta at the park’s South Marina at 799 Saint Johnland Road in Kings Park.
The Nissequogue River State Park Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving the park for future generations, is coordinating the event with students. The event, called Regatta on the River, is sponsored by the Reichert family, owners of the East Northport and Fort Salonga IGA supermarkets, and will feature both a competitive 10-mile race that begins at 9 a.m. and a leisurely five-mile excursion that begins at 9:30 a.m. This year the event includes a barbecue and picnic.
Three co-presidents of the foundation’s student board, Emily Dinan, Caleigh Lynch and Juliana Quigley, have worked together to organize this year’s event. Last year, the regatta event raised a total of more than $2,500. Lynch, a senior at St. Anthony’s High School in Melville, said the student board makes decisions about the regatta for the organization, which instills leadership qualities among board members.
“Knowing that our involvement with the board is making a difference right here in my own community is an amazing feeling,” she said. “It will be amazing to see all of our hard work from January to July go into full effect.”
Dinan, a senior at Kings Park High School, said being on the board allows her and others to give families in the community a fun activity to do and helps them raise money to beautify and help clean up the park.
“We are excited to see how big our event grows each year,” she said. “I love seeing new faces among the familiar ones as they gear up and get ready to go out on the river.”
In preparation for the event, the group files the necessary permits for the event, designs T-shirts and obtains event sponsors. Dinan said everyone is responsible with helping spread the word about its events. Quigley, also a senior at Kings High School, said it feels great to help maintain the park.
“There comes a sense of pride in the work we’ve done to contribute to this jewel in our backyard,” she said. A third-generation resident, the senior said she has been visiting the park all her life since her grandparents took her there when she was young.
Dinan said many people have told them they didn’t even know how big the park was or that there was so much you could do. Last year, paddleboarders were included in the regatta for the first time, and the group hopes they can get even more participants this year.
Lynch said the park often gets a bad reputation for being located on the waterfront portion of the former Kings Park Psychiatric Center, stopping people from realizing how beautiful the park is.
“I believe the park is one of Mother Nature’s greatest hits,” she said.
All proceeds from ticket sales will go directly to the Nissequogue River State Park Foundation for use in the park. To register for the many different options available for participation visit www.ourstatepark.com/4th-annual-regatta-on-the-river.