By David Hazledine
SYRACUSE — On Wednesday, June 30, the Syracuse-Wawasee Chamber of Commerce building, 207 N. Huntington St., Syracuse, was the most recent beneficiary of the Red Canoe Project. SWCC Foundation Executive Director Renea Salyer thanked Jack Zimmerman, Roger Niles and Bob Baugher for their contribution of an 18-foot-6-inch Sea Nymph canoe built in 1974 on the same lot it has now come to rest.
“We are extremely proud to repurpose this canoe and showcase it at the same location as it was built,” said Salyer. “It is our honor to dedicate it in honor of those men who raced it.
Those men were Zimmerman, Niles and Baugher who, along with Wayne Dalman, successfully raced the canoe in 1974-75 throughout Indiana, Michigan and Ohio, winning “quite a few trophies,” Zimmerman commented. Niles and Zimmerman also worked at Sea Nymph, which was located in the spot now occupied by SWCC. Baugher stored the canoe for roughly 40 years before donating it to the project.
The Red Canoe Project was started in 2020, when Roxann Arnott placed a canoe on the south end of Syracuse in memory of her friend, Annie Laurie Hardie. Salyer then approached Arnott to continue the project, and by the end of 2020 seven canoes were placed. SWCC Foundation manages the funding and organization of the project.
“The canoes were donated by community residents and sponsored by individuals, businesses and organizations to dedicate in honor or memory of someone special,” said Salyer. “By the end of the summer 2021, we will have placed an additional five canoes, totaling 12 canoes in the Syracuse area.”
SWCC has a map in their directory of the seven canoes placed in 2020. All canoes are numbered by resident Kevin Neal. “It has sparked folks to go out and hunt for them and share their photos and tag the chamber,” Salyer observed. An updated map including all canoes will be available on swchamber.com.
“We will continue adding flowers and maintaining the canoes for years to come,” said Salyer. Flowers in 2021 were funded by a grant from the Harkless Foundation and donations from individuals. Donations to the Red Canoe Flower Fund will be accepted any time of the year to help future efforts. To donate, visit swchamber.com/swcc-foundation-inc.