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Registration open for third annual Calusa Palooza canoe, kayak and SUP race

By Staff | Mar 27, 2018

The third annual Calusa Palooza, a competitive race event organized by the College of Life Foundation for paddling enthusiasts, returns April 7.

The event will be held at Koreshan State Park, at 3800 Corkscrew Road, Estero, along Lee County Parks & Recreation’s Great Calusa Blueway. The Estero River race includes events for standup paddle boarders, as well as kayaks, outrigger canoes and surf-skis.

It is an American Canoe Association-sanctioned race that will include an eight-mile race, four-mile race and a free quarter-mile Calusa Kids Race. Over 80 paddlers from Florida attended last year’s event.

It is free for spectators, and several locations along the river offer vantage points.

This year, organizers hope to attract more local participants and spectators. A renewed emphasis will be placed on introducing people to paddling as a family-oriented event. There will be free kayaks and SUPs available through Estero River Outfitters on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Pre-registration is required for racers; race entries are $35.

All proceeds from Calusa Palooza will benefit a summer camp for underprivileged youth, which includes youth paddling sports in Southwest Florida and an environmental workshop.

“My goal as a race director is to get our community involved in paddle sports while supporting a great cause,” Brandy Minchew, race director, said. “This race is not only for our local competitive racers, but for our everyday paddler as well. I have the honor of offering a summer camp for underprivileged youth every summer and without the proceeds from this race, I would not be able to do this. Our community is so supportive.”

To register or for information, visit paddleguru.com/races/CalusaPalooza2018. Out-of-area paddlers and spectators can book lodging at a discounted rate at www.floridastateparks.org/park/koreshan.

Event sponsors include FineMark Bank, Coconut Point Ford, The Great Calusa Blueway, Rotary Club of Estero, BayWater Boat Club, Koreshan State Park, Argo, Boral Engineering & Design, RiverGlades, Sanibel Sea School and LAI Group of Florida.