By Ann Hanyen
This spring and early summer, Orleans citizens were very divided over the issue of wastewater. Despite the strong differences of opinion about what should be done to clean up our waters, no one questioned the importance of our precious water resources to the economic vitality of the town and the special quality of life here. For many of us, the beaches, ponds, lakes, marshes, and saltwater estuaries are the primary reason we came to live or vacation in Orleans.
Orleans Pond Coalition and the Town of Orleans are sponsoring the fourth annual “Celebrate Our Waters” weekend on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, September 13, 14, and 15. We want to increase awareness and appreciation of the waters surrounding us and for residents and visitors alike to get outside and have a wonderful time. To help make this happen, we’ve organized a weekend filled with water-related activities. As always, everything is FREE!
Our “on water” events have expanded this year. In addition to the always popular Bay Island kayak trip and Goose Hummock’s Town Cove and Nauset Marsh kayak trips, there will be a “women on water” kayak tour exploring the inlets between Meetinghouse Pond and upper Little Pleasant Bay. Another exciting new kayak trip is the Brewster Upper Mill Pond trip led by Tom Cambareri, Water Resources Program Manager for the Cape Cod Commission. During the trip, you’ll have a chance to learn about measurement techniques for pond water quality and how pond water quality is essential to a healthy ecosystem. If you’re interested in trying a new water sport, SUPfari Adventures of Brewster is offering four “Paddle and Play” Stand Up Paddleboarding clinics on Saturday at Pilgrim Lake. No experience is needed and SUPfari Adventures is providing all the equipment and instructors. They are also leading a SUP tour on Sunday for experienced paddleboarders.
Although the majority of the weekend’s events are in Orleans, we are branching out into Brewster this year similar to our expansion into Eastham last year. This is particularly timely given the increased emphasis on dealing with water issues regionally. In addition to the Brewster kayak trip mentioned above, Jim Gallagher, Conservation Administrator for the Town of Brewster, will be leading a Namskaket Marsh and Brewster Flats walk, and the Natural Resources Department for the Town of Brewster has timed their Learn to Shellfish event to coincide with Celebrate Our Waters. This is a unique opportunity for anyone who has always wanted to try clamming but didn’t know how or didn’t have the equipment.
We haven’t forgotten the children, and Depot Square will be the hub for children’s activities. Bring your little ones to the Story Time tent on Saturday and listen to Susan Baur read one her ”Turtle Sisters” books or be enthralled by Stormy Mayo reading “Ibis: A True Whale Story” about the first successful whale-entanglement rescue. Other volunteers will be reading stories throughout the day. On both Saturday and Sunday, there will be Children’s Craft tent with special activities such as making sun prints using skate egg cases, shells, and horseshoe crab molts.
Student projects will be on display at the Old Firehouse Gallery on Main Street. Come view “A Kid’s Guide to Orleans” created by fifth graders at Orleans Elementary School and also view the “Marine Debris Art” exhibit showcasing the work of Nauset Regional High Schools students.
One of the most pleasant developments in the four year history of Celebrate our Waters is that individuals and organizations are now approaching Orleans Pond Coalition and volunteering to participate in the weekend. A notable example this year is the Cape Cod Reel Paddling Film Fest which will kick off the weekend on Friday night at the Old Firehouse. The Paddling Film Fest is the brainchild of Dick Hilmer and is being organized by the Orleans Chamber of Commerce. Seven films celebrating kayaking, canoeing and stand-up paddle boarding will be shown. Dick hopes that the Film Fest will become an annual Friday night event that is anticipated in the same way as Saturday night’s beach concert and bonfire. <
Celebrate Our Waters is only possible because of the generosity of all the individuals, businesses, organizations and town departments who partner with us and provide their services for free. One such partner is Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies (PCCS) which been a key supporter from the beginning. Staff members of the Center have presented enlightening and entertaining talks every year, and this year is no exception. Graham Giese, Senior Scientist at PCCS, will present the findings of a recent study in his talk “Unexpected Tide and Sea Level Changes in Pleasant Bay.” Mark Borelli, Director of Marine Geology at PCCS, will show off the Center’s new state-of-the-art sonar system used to map the seafloor in his presentation “Shipwrecks, Seagrass and Sonar: Mapping the Seafloor in and around Cape Cod.” Check the schedule for other fascinating talks throughout the weekend.
And lastly, be sure to go to the beach! Head to Skaket Beach for a sunset bird walk, the sand sculpture contest, and a tour of Rock Creek Oyster Farm. Head to Nauset on Saturday evening for the Lower Cape Concert Band performance followed by the Town of Orleans sponsored Beach Bonfire. Hopefully the weather will be as wonderful as last year when over 1000 people watched the flames leap skyward.
Mark your calendar now – SEPTEMBER 13, 14, and 15 – and join the CELEBRATION. For a detailed schedule of events, go to www.OrleansPondCoalition.org.