LINDEN - Having fun and raising money for a local non-profit organization trumped intense summer heat Saturday as hundreds of people turned out at Haywood's on the Water to participate in the Susquehanna River Fanny Float and DuBoistown Dice Run motorcycle run.
The revived float is in its second year, while the dice run is in its eighth year.
Proceeds from the event support Andrew's Special Kids Foundation, a non-profit organization founded by Dean and Amy Kriebel. The organization helps parents with disabled children pay for adaptive equipment, special education and therapy not covered
The Kriebels were inspired to create the foundation - and host the fundraiser events - by their own disabled son, Andrew, who is the face of the organization.
"He is the driving force," Amy Kriebel said of her son. She added that the ultimate goal of the organization is to build a special needs center for seizure disorders and rare syndromes.
Participating in the Susquehanna River Fanny Float was a great way to beat the heat Saturday as temperatures topped out at 99 degrees.
"There is nothing around here for that," she said.
Dean Kriebel said the event could not have been held without the tireless efforts of dozens for volunteers, plus the businesses, corporate sponsors and donors who supported it.
"We live in such a generous area," he said. "Local businesses donated over 400 prizes because they believe in our cause and they know there is a need. Without them, we wouldn't be able to raise as much funds as we have."
While the dice run has been the organization's primary fundraiser, the fanny float last year supplanted it and, in fact, overwhelmed organizers unprepared for the 2,000 people who turned out for it.
The overwhelming numbers, plus other factors, man-made and natural, made it a less-than-pleasant experience for some participants, some of whom were on the water for hours.
This year, organizers streamlined the registration process, shortened the float from three miles to one mile and made other adjustments in an attempt to make it a more "user friendly" event. According to Bob Sacavage, of Mount Carmel, those changes were successful.
"It is much better organized," Sacavage said. "There are many things that are different - all positive."
The event featured silent auctions, raffles, giveaways, food and live music. A house boat was tied to the Haywood's dock and served as a stage for the bands - the Cramer Brothers Band and the Flipside.
Wayne Bottorf, of Jersey Shore, chose to ride, rather than float.
"It's a good cause and the camaraderie of all the bikers is a nice thing," Bottorf said. Bottorf said the hot weather could make the ride uncomfortable for helmet wearers like himself, but added, "there's always a breeze when you're riding."
While attendees could ride, float or simply hang out and enjoy the entertainment, it was clear the fanny float was the main attraction.
Dozens of participants, floats at the ready, were in line at the top of a cement walkway leading down to the Haywood's dock waiting for the signal to enter the water. Spectators watched from the high ground overlooking the river. Boats were anchored offshore to view the event.
On Dean Kriebel's signal, participants began to descend the cement walkway to the dock.
The vanguard of the group hesitated briefly at the river's edge. Then, one by one, in pairs, and in groups, they went in, each with their own unique - and often comical - entry technique.
Some dropped their floats in the water, then lurched forward, landing on them belly-first. Others sat dockside, trying to glide gracefully onto their bobbing tubes. The result was never graceful and almost always accompanied by awkward thrashing, flailing and clutching at their unruly vessels. Still others used the fanny-first technique, dropping backwards into what they hoped was their waiting tube.
Hoots and squeals of laughter accompanied the whole endeavor. More than 45 minutes later, people still were entering the water.
Among the spectators was Lycoming County Commissioner Ernie Larson and his wife, Nancy, who watched with amusement from a boat tied to a nearby dock.
"It's a great community event," Larson said. "It brings people together for a great cause and it brings them back to one of our great natural resources - the Susquehanna River."
As soon as the first floaters entered the water, they began to drift downstream. Soon, the water became a parade procession that extended downstream and disappeared around a bend.
Some floaters traveled in groups. Others went solo. At least two women were accompanied by small dogs, one of which was wearing its own personal flotation device.
Some used paddles, others their feet and hands for propulsion. Others let the river choose the pace.
The floats themselves came in all colors and sizes, from the basic black inner tube to floating chairs and exotic family sized contraptions. One man floated in an inflatable pirate ship. Three women and several children drifted downstream in a float as large as a living room.
Carol Adams and Kim Cipriani, both of Williamsport, said they went with the basic style.
"We've got old black inner tubes. It's down home and nothing fancy," Cipriani said.
Peter Lorson, of Jacks Hollow, had a modern-looking raft, but the bread bag he had wrapped around his recently operated on wrist was old school. Lorson said he had surgery two days earlier and wanted to keep his bandage dry.
Adams, who recently moved to the area from Georgia, said she and Cipriani attended the event "to have some fun in the sun and donate to a great cause."
Neither woman participated in last year's event, though Adams said she has participated in similar events throughout the U.S.
Dawn Sprenkle, of Northumberland, said she came to the event for two reasons: to support a good cause and have fun.
"We came to support (the foundation)," she said. "Friends of ours came last year and they said how fun it was, with the silent auctions, the raffles and the food."
Temperatures were expected to be near 100 degrees during the day, but Sprenkle said she was unconcerned about that prospect.
"We're going to be in the water," she said.