Celebrate Our Waters Returns After COVID-19 Hiatus

By: Ryan Bray

Topics: Groundwater protection , Waterways , Community events

A giant sand sculpture of a squid adorns Nauset Beach as part of a past Celebrate Our Waters weekend. After a year off due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Orleans Pond Coalition is resuming the annual event Sept. 17 through Sept. 19. RYAN BRAY PHOTO

ORLEANS -- Water quality continues to be a cornerstone issue on Cape Cod, and for almost 20 years, the Orleans Pond Coalition has been doing its part to try and improve the region’s waterways.

From piloting programs to conducting research into new ways to help keep the town’s ponds clean, the coalition has taken numerous approaches to addressing the issue of water quality since it began in 2003. Part of the coalition’s work also involves educating the public and raising awareness about the dangers posed to the ponds.

After a year hiatus in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the coalition is bringing back its annual Celebrate Our Waters weekend. From Sept. 17 through 19, residents and visitors can take part in more than 50 free events including guided tours, hikes and a bonfire at Nauset Beach.

The event, which is funded annually by the volunteer-run coalition, is designed to bring more focus and attention to the group’s ongoing work and advocacy, according to coalition board member Eric Spengler.

Celebrate Our Waters

Sponsored by the Orleans Pond Coalition
Sept. 17 through 19
Information and schedule: www.orleanspondcoalition.org

“It’s a centerpiece for Orleans and the townspeople,” he said. “Many people come from out of town and look forward to celebrating it with us.”

This year’s event starts with a sunset paddle at Pilgrim Lake beach from 5 to 7 p.m. on Sept 17. The following day, families can take part in day-long events at the Family Fun Tent at Rock Harbor, yoga on Nauset Beach (8:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.), a hike of Bakers Pond (9 to 10 a.m.), a model boat regatta at Crystal Lake Beach (10 a.m. to noon), stand-up paddleboarding, art galleries and receptions and a walk of Sarah’s Pond (2 to 3:30 p.m.), among other activities.

New this year is a kayak and walking tour of Sipson’s Island, presented in part with the Sipson’s Island Trust, on Sept. 19 from 9 a.m. to noon.

“That was such a popular idea that it sold out the weekend we opened registration,” Spengler said.

Other events planned for Sept. 19 include a cranberry bog tour (noon to 1 p.m.), a terra firma water walk ( 2 to 3 p.m.) and a hike of Pochet Island ( 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.).

Spengler said the variety of events is designed to bring out people of all ages who might not otherwise take the time to enjoy the various outdoor offerings around town.

“We feel that getting people outside to experience Orleans in a way that they might not ordinarily is a way to improve that awareness,” he said. “If you’ve seen the list of events, everything imaginable that you can do outdoors, from bird watching to walks to hikes and kayaking tours.”

Beyond planning the Celebrate Our Waters weekend, the coalition remains busy with other initiatives, including Mutt Mitts, a program in which coalition members help supply bags to pick up pet waste in the town’s conservation areas.

The coalition is also leading an oxygen demonstration at Sarah’s Pond, where coalition members are exploring different methods of cleaning waterways apart from using alum and other treatments.

“We’re learning a ton,” Spengler said. “We’re starting to turn the corner to understand what’s needed to make that a reality, so we’re really excited about that.”

For more information about this year’s Celebrate Our Waters weekend, including a schedule of daily events, visit www.orleanspondcoalition.org.