Paddle boats debut in Pawtucket park, after half-century away

Families took advantage of Saturday's beautiful weather to try out some paddle boats in Pawtucket. The boats left the Slater Park pond half a century ago. Saturday, they were back in the water for good.

One by one, crews loaded paddle boats into the pond at Slater Park for the first time in 50 years.

“I think it's a great idea,” said mom Meredith O'Malley, “We've only done swan boats once in our lives and now we don't have to go to Boston to do it again. These are great.”

O'Malley's family was lucky enough to get the first ride. Her six year old twin boys got strapped in and the family took off.

Riders have a choice of swan boats, dragon boats, or some with canopies. Each ride is five dollars. The city gets a small percentage of that five dollar cost. Plus Recreational Director John Blais said there are other benefits.

“It helps the pond with less bacteria growth and what have you, so it's good environmentally and recreationally.”

Blais came up with the idea and the mayor supported him. “A lot of the older folks remember the old canopy paddle boats,” said Mayor Don Grebien, “You know, I had three people this morning talking about how they remember when. My kids enjoy them. It's about the family atmosphere. It's what Pawtucket is about.”

The O'Malley boys enjoyed their ride too. This popular 1960's tradition, turned 2012 summer treat will be back in the park for the next two weekends. After that, the boats will run seven days a week from 11a.m. to 7p.m.