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Waddington to bring back hydroplane boat racing

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WADDINGTON — A beloved tradition could come thundering back to the St. Lawrence River this year.

As part of its ongoing efforts to pump more tourism dollars into the north country economy and bring more people to experience the beauty of the St. Lawrence River, town and village officials are hoping to bring back hydroplane boat races.

“I am excited because this is another venue in which we can build on tourism in St. Lawrence County,” Mayor Janet M. Otto-Cassada said Wednesday.

Robert J. Giordano said organizers are looking to tap a group of Canadian hydroplane enthusiasts who participate annually in the Valleyfield Regatta in Quebec to organize races out of Whittaker Park in the village.

“We spoke with them and they came down for a site visit and took a look at Waddington and the surrounding areas,” Mr. Giordano said. “They said Waddington was well positioned to host a very large race with two days of racing. They looked at Coles Creek to camp, as well.”

The races will include multiple classes and boats, and is considered the “NASCAR of boat racing,” Mr. Giordano said.

“We want to make it a permanent race location for every season,” he said.

About 150,000 spectators attend the Valleyfield Regatta championship race. Mr. Giordano said the races could potentially draw thousands of people from both sides of the U.S.-Canada border.

“It’s a very popular event and it is exciting,” Mr. Giordano said. “They would set up a festival here as well, much like the Bassmaster Elite tournament in August.”

Traditionally, the Waddington Fire Department hosted speed boat races. But increases in costs caused officials to stop the races several years ago.

“It took a lot of work to put on a show like this,” Mr. Giordano said. “Now it is changed a little bit. When these guys come into town, they have their own insurance and equipment, and all we have to provide for them is a facility and space.”

Mrs. Otto-Cassada said tourism is the key to Waddington’s future.

“Events like these are a huge economic boost for the area,” she said. “I am extremely happy with the work we are doing to encourage more and more events to come to the area. We will continue to search for more events in the future.”

The Bassmaster Elite Series tournament in August generated $1.03 million to $3.38 million and brought a total of 34,100 people to the region.

Approximately 250 anglers will again take to the St. Lawrence River from Waddington Sept. 24 to 26 for the 2014 B.A.S.S. Nation divisionals.

The hydroplane races are tentatively scheduled for June 14 and 15.

A joint meeting between the town and village will be held Tuesday at 6 p.m. to discuss the races. Organizers are hoping that many people will attend to share ideas on how to make the races a well-attended event in the region.

“We are going to need volunteers,” Mr. Giordano said. ”We want to have a lot of people involved.”

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