by Cara Gardner and Pia K. Hansen Row, Row, Row... -- SPOKANE -- While kayak sales are down for the third year in a row, the trendy sport remains a favorite for millions of Americans. And now some enthusiasts want a whole park dedicated to kayaking. That, they say, is just the thing Spokane needs for its ever-impending "revival."
REI has just donated $3,000 to Friends of the Falls (FOF) as partial funding for a feasibility study for a kayak park within the Gorge area, and leading the way on this study is the Northwest Whitewater Association.
"It's a significantly growing industry," says Paul Delaney, board member for NWA. "It's one of the fastest-growing participant sports in the nation."
Delaney says a kayak park would bring people from all over the country to Spokane. "It would have an economic impact by creating competitions and providing tremendous access from a spectator standpoint," Delaney says.
FOF has received a total of $250,000 of the state's capital budget to conduct a strategic master plan and analysis for the Gorge Park project. The feasibility studies will begin in 2004.
REI also gave $3,000 to the Friends of the Centennial Trail to assist in the development of a new, comprehensive map of the trail. And FOF and REI are sponsoring a river cleanup event on Oct. 25.
Centennial Celebration -- SPOKANE -- That the YWCA is one of the strongest and most active volunteer-driven organizations in town is probably no surprise, but it may surprise some that it has been around for 100 years.
On Friday, Sept. 26, the YWCA is celebrating its 100th birthday with music, food and wine -- and as something new, part of the celebration will take place outside on Broadway, with a street dance from 7-10 pm.
"We are trying really hard to reach out to some younger people this time around," says Mary C. Butler, director of development at the YWCA. "We have some volunteers and donors who have been with us for 50 years." Butler hopes to attract the under-35 crowd.
The evening will also feature a silent auction, where guests may purchase the results of the YWCA's mirror project.
"We have had this yearlong project where 32 local artists have made pieces that all include a reflective surface, like a mirror," says Butler. "These are very unique, and we have all mediums represented, so this is a good chance for younger people to perhaps buy some art," she says. Along with several Gonzaga basketball items, the YWCA will also auction off a round of golf with former Redskins quarterback Mark Rypien.
"We just want people to come over and have fun," she says. "It's a pretty big deal that we have an organization here in Spokane that has worked to keep women safe for 100 years."
The celebration begins at on Sept. 26 at 5 pm at the YWCA, 829 W. Broadway Ave. Tickets: $20; $25, at the door. Call: 326-1190 ext. 154
Kids in Space? -- SPOKANE -- What's the next best thing if you can't afford one of those million-dollar trips into space? How about pretending you're going on one?
NASA's Starship 2040 is landing now at River Park Square, where it's going to be docked through the end of Saturday -- and you're welcome to take a free tour.
Starship 2040 was created by NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., and it's a giant flight simulator. When inside, visitors get a feel for what space travel may look like in the year 2040, complete with sound effects, simulated views from the windows and various science experiments going on.
The exhibit is on its way from Alaska to Montana, and Rep. George Nethercutt convinced the good people from NASA to make a stop in Spokane.
"We have about 600 students from area schools coming in to see the exhibit," says Nancy Fike, district coordinator for Nethercutt. "We are collaborating with the Children's Museum, but this is not a fundraiser."
The Children's Museum -- which is currently closed -- is working to raise the $660,000 it needs to move into a new space at River Park Square.
"We have a couple of bigger grants that we may be getting really soon," says Sharon Robertson, marketing and events coordinator for the museum. "The latest total was around $140,000, but it's changing all the time. Spaceship 2040 is kind of an example of what we want to keep bringing into town -- that's why we are collaborating on this."
Starship 2040 is open for free tours on Sept. 25-27 from 10 am-6 pm. Call: 353-2374.