October 17, 2018
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Who are the Pascagoula Paradise Paddlers?

Surrounded by a couple of Pascagoula locals, Kristi Ducote and Eric Richards along with some Hurricane Shrimp Tacos from Brady’s, I found myself enchanted by the stories and opportunities a SaltLife person is looking for.  Pascagoula Paradise Paddlers (PPP) consists of a core group of about 7 members give or take a few. It all started a little over 6 years ago with the Gulf Coast Summerfest. GCS needed a kayak event or two and Paradise Paddlers was born when a few enthusiasts found each other at the Choctaw Marina launch and voila!  They all said, “Let’s do this again!” Since then they have been meeting nearly every month to explore another blueway beauty in Jackson County. Eric Richards, a founding member, says, “it allows newcomers to the sport to meet other enthusiasts, but also shows the great paradise we have here… all the attributes of our natural resources.”

When I asked what some of the “standout” virtues and ventures are, he replied, “…camaraderie and the Cumbest Bayou Fish Fry Paddle” (my personal favorite).  Each Fall, one of the paddles is along the beautiful banks of Cumbest Bayou. Once the group arrives at an old Indian shell midden island, fresh speckled trout from the bayou are fried up and served with plenty of sides and snacks, by Fletcher Songe and Charlie McVea (more PPP founding members). All of the ventures are very family friendly and safety is always a number one priority. Most all floats utilize the services of local marine law enforcement escorts and/or a lead/follow safety kayaker. There are: Blood Moon, Super Moon, Sunset/Moon-rise, Fall/Spring, Day/Night, and event paddles year round.  You’ll enjoy some of the night paddles which employ some “MacGyver-like” decorated boats with lights and more. I asked Eric which venture is the most scenic. He replied, “the Franklin Creek paddle out of Presley’s Outing… the trees and canopy are incredible in both summer and winter… they have very different looks with and without foliage.”

The City of Pascagoula’s outdoor recreation specialist and PPP member, Kristi Ducote, shares about some of the partnering events that bring the Paradise Paddlers and city recreation together.  On June 23rd, the rescheduled Pascagoula Run Paddle Battle, which stretches 12.5 miles from Little River Marina to Lighthouse Park, will bring in some serious kayak talent from across the south; but it’s not a race for all.  For some, it’s a great chance to see a long stretch of bayou and river blueway along the Pascagoula River delta. “Even if you’re not up to the 12.5 mile paddle, we have two pullout points downstream for those who want less of a challenge,” said Ducote.  Online registration will last through Thursday, June 22nd, but you can still attend and register at the meetup on Friday June 23rd at Brady’s Steak and Seafood, 3801 Magnolia St. from 5:00-8:00PM. Go to the City of Pascagoula link (https://cityofpascagoula.com/467/Pascagoula-Run-Paddle-Battle) for more info on this event and others like the June 29th PaddlePalooza from River Park to Huck’s Cove, which is a Sunset/Moonrise adventure.  Also, Nelson Outdoors of Pascagoula is always happy to provide you with a rental, complete with all safety gear. And I’ll bet they’ll hook you up with your own rig, if you’re in the market!

So, if you are a beginner, an explorer, enthusiast, or just plain ole Salty Dog; come enjoy the paradise Jackson County has to offer.  You’ll meet some really cool folks and see some breathtaking beauty. The PPP doesn’t have an official website, but if you go the Mississippi Kayaking Meetup Group page, you can stay tuned for upcoming adventures: (https://www.meetup.com/Mississippi-Kayak-Meetup-Group/).  Also, the City of Pascagoula updates their recreation website with the latest on kayaking events in the area: (https://cityofpascagoula.com/327/Outdoor-Recreation)

Get SALTY Y’all!

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