Last year’s inaugural event, created by Delaware River Tubing, drew about 300 guests who donned inner tubes and hit the river. The number of tubers is expected to grow for the second incarnation.
Company president Greg Crance, also known as the “Hot Dog Man” for the lunchspot he operates in the water along the tubing route, said the idea was sparked after one of his sons came out to him.
“After he told us, he was angry — not because he was gay, he was angry he couldn’t show affection in public like everyone else can,” Crance said. “So we wanted to do this to bring the issue up and show it’s completely normal and OK to be gay. We want gay people to know that they’re supported and accepted.”
The scenic tubing route will take participants on a leisurely 6-mile stretch that originates in Frenchtown, N.J., and extends between New Hope and historic Lambertville, N.J. The water is typically between 2- and 4-feet deep.
The trip lasts between three and four hours and includes a lunch stop at the Hot Dog Man stand, where guests can enjoy hot dogs, burgers and snacks, included in the price of the trip, at picnic tables in the river. Other menu options are also available.
When guests get to the island for lunch, they can participate in, or just enjoy as a spectator, a swimsuit contest. The competition is new to the Flotilla lineup this year, and Crance said volunteers from the community are welcome to lend a hand in organizing the event.
“Number one, we want people to have fun,” he said. “And I think it’s good for people to feel part of a community, a group. They’ll be able to have a really relaxing, fun time floating down the river, taking in all the great scenery.”
The tubing trip costs $32 per person, lunch included, but Crance said most guests choose to upgrade to the $40 package that allows for tubes that can be connected within a party. The company also offers kayaks, canoes and rafts.
As the event becomes an area tradition, Crance said he would hope it could one day stretch even further along the river.
“We want to turn this into a festival every year where we can really help to change some of the thinking going on right now about gay issues: This is a community of people just like anyone else,” he said. “Pretty much every family has someone who’s gay in it, and we want the gay community to see how much support and love they have.”
For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.delawarerivertubing.com
Jen Colletta can be reached at email@example.com.