The ongoing coronavirus pandemic means changes and later dates for this year’s annual Schuylkill River Sojourn from Schuylkill Haven to Philadelphia.

This year’s sojourn is tentatively set to be from Aug. 15 to 23. The event was originally scheduled for June 6 to 12, but was postponed due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

A press release from Schuylkill River Greenways, the sojourn’s organizer, said this year’s trip “may look very different due to COVID-19 restrictions and summer water levels.”

Miica Patterson, the organization’s communications director, said it is anticipated in-person paddling will be allowed this year, with guidelines on social distancing, wearing a face mask and temperature checks being discussed for when participants gather. They are still being finalized, she said Tuesday, but hopes they are in line with ones set by the state Department of Health and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

This year, participants have the option of participating in a digital event with a virtual paddling experience, in addition to in-person paddling, which will take place if recommended guidelines allow organizers to do so, the release adds. How the virtual experience will take place is still being worked out, Patterson said, but one idea for the virtual padding being considered is having Greenways staff set up guides for participants to follow along the river. Paddlers follow the guides, posting pictures and videos of their journey along the way.

“People are still using the river,” she said. “We want to promote that it’s still used and give people the option of experiencing the sojourn.”

No registration date has been set, but organizers say it will occur later this month. Dates for the sojourn as well as the agenda are also being finalized and will be made available to the public today on the Schuylkill River Greenways website.

Started in 1998, the Schuylkill Sojourn is a seven-day, 112-mile guided paddle in canoes and kayaks from Island Park in Schuylkill Haven to Boathouse Row in Philadelphia, passing historic and ecological sites along the way.

Patterson said with water levels lower in August than in June in some parts of the river, participants in this year’s sojourn may not be able to go to all of the stops on the journey to Philadelphia.

“Those locations have yet to be determined,” she said.

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