Rafting trip is a friendly water fight | VailDaily.com
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Rafting trip is a friendly water fight

J.K. Perry
Special to the DailyJay Weis of St. Mary's Hospital in Grand Junction gets splashed with a bucket of water during a rafting trip initiated by the Eagle County Sheriff's Office. The trip is designed to bring together law enforcement, emergency personnel and other government employees to develop relationships outside of work.
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GLENWOOD CANYON – It’s about the only time a civilian gets away with talking smack to cops and pushing unsuspecting deputies into the water.The torrent of water fights and horseplay takes place on a 17-mile stretch of water, sun and rapids from Grizzly Creek to New Castle during the annual Eagle County Sheriff’s Office rafting trip. The niceties immediately ceased in Glenwood Canyon as 100 boaters in 13 rafts began tossing buckets full of Colorado River water at each other, pirates walked the plank and off-duty cops shipwrecked.The float is essentially a series of impromptu parries and thrusts, with all but the most timid boaters pulling alongside other rafts and attacking with the buckets, paddles and giant water guns – the only heat these lawmen and women pack.

A highlight of the trip was a jump from an irrigation pipe which spans the Colorado River 25 feet or more above the water. Some rafters exited their boats and shimmied over the rotting wooden supports to jump into the water. Others chickened out, and they know who they are.Despite the playful nature of the trip, a serious intention lies behind the gathering, which draws law enforcement agencies and emergency personnel from near and far.”A lot of times Tamara (Blackard) and I would go out on calls and we never knew other people’s names,” Deputy Tanny McGinnis said. “It’s easier to go into a crisis situation with people you know and work well with than it is with people who are strangers.”

The first trip four years ago drew just 35 rafters.”It started kind of small,” Sheriff Joe Hoy said. “We’d invite some of our agencies from within the valley to get together, see faces and have fun because usually when we get together it’s under a stressful situation.”Exactly 100 people attended this year, held July 23.”It has just mushroomed,” Hoy said.

“We already have people RSVP-ing for next year,” McGinnis added.Eagle County employees made up a large portion of the rafters, although several other agencies floated the river, including the Colorado State Patrol, Broomfield Police Department, Palisade Fire Department and the Gypsum Fire Protection District, among others.”It definitely builds camaraderie,” Hoy said. “It tightens that bond, not only within the county … but there are other times when we get called to other parts of the state. Just to have that connection helps.”Staff Writer J.K. Perry can be reached at 748-2928 or jkperry@ vaildaily.com.


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