ROWIN’ ON THE RIVER: Bluz Cruz a kick for oldest paddler

Published 10:55 am Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Kayakers and canoers wait for last year’s Bluz Cruz race to start.

Kayakers and canoers wait for last year’s Bluz Cruz race to start.

With the help of experienced river guides, an 85-year-old man will have the opportunity to race in the 10th annual Bluz Cruz Kayak and Canoe Race Saturday.

Bill Cousineau will be the oldest participant signed on to tackle the 22-mile trek from the Madison Parish Port near Tallulah to the Vicksburg city waterfront, said Wayne Pratt, one of 20 paddlers in canoes that will be steered by river guides including noted Mississippi River guide John Ruskey.

Pratt, a coordinator for the event, said the canoes are offered for those that are unsure of racing on their own.

Cousineau admitted he didn’t want to tackle the mighty Mississippi alone, but was interested in participating in the race.

Bill Cousineau, 85, will be the oldest participant in the 10th annual Bluz Cruz canoe and kayak race being held Saturday.

Bill Cousineau, 85, will be the oldest participant in the 10th annual Bluz Cruz canoe and kayak race being held Saturday.

“I didn’t want to be by myself and this gives me the chance to do it,” he said.

Cousineau said he was looking forward to the trip and is confidant that his active lifestyle will aid in the stamina required for the race.

“I talked to Wayne, (Pratt) and asked questions about the trip,” he said, and he said he thought I would do fine.

“I was a professional forester in Oregon,” Cousineau said, “and there were always lots of hills to climb and that helped me stay in shape,” he said.

“Being outdoors is a big thing for me. I have never had an office job.”

Cousineau lives in Sun River and said he and his wife come to Vicksburg twice a year to visit their son, who owns the Baer House Bed and Breakfast.

“We come down here in the spring and each fall to help out at the B&B,” said Cousineau.

The canoe that Cousineau will be paddling will be one of Ruskey’s French Canadian Explorer Canoes, said Pratt.

From left, Vickie and Bryan Pratt guide a front tandem kayak while their son, Brandon Pratt and Warren County Sheriff’s Deputy Rodney Lehman, paddle another kayak on the Yazoo Diversion Canal in preparation for the 10th annual Bluz Cruz Canoe and Kayak Race.

From left, Vickie and Bryan Pratt guide a front tandem kayak while their son, Brandon Pratt and Warren County Sheriff’s Deputy Rodney Lehman, paddle another kayak on the Yazoo Diversion Canal in preparation for the 10th annual Bluz Cruz Canoe and Kayak Race.

He will be bringing two for the race and each one holds 10 paddlers and two guides, Pratt said, and added that all of the spaces in the canoes have been claimed for the race.

The cost to participate in the race is $55 and non-American Canoe Association members will also be assessed an additional $5 fee.

To register online, visit www.bluzcruz.com/registration.

Prospective paddlers may also register from 2 to 7 p.m. Friday at Martin’s at Midtown, 1101 Belmont St. along with race packet pick-up.

Race participants will meet at the former Grand Station Casino parking lot, near 1366 Mulberry St., from 6:45 to 7 a.m. Saturday, then be shuttled to the Madison Parish Port. Shuttle service for paddlers will be provided to put-in.

A mandatory safety meeting will be held at the Louisiana entry point at 8:30 a.m. and the race will begin at 9.

The Bluz Cruz Kayak and Canoe Race is a fundraiser for Service over Self (SOS), a non-denominational youth service project that provides necessary home repairs and materials to those in need in Vicksburg and Warren County.

For more information, visit www.bluzcruz.com.

If you go

The 10th annual Bluz Cruz Kayak and Canoe race is scheduled for Saturday. Paddlers will put their canoes in the Mississippi River at the Madison Parish Port near Tallulah. The race ends at the Vicksburg city waterfront. Participants will meet at the former Grand Station Casino parking lot, near 1366 Mulberry St. from 6:45 a.m. to 7 a.m., then be shuttled to the Madison Parish Port. The cost is $55 plus a $5 fee for non-American Canoe Association members. To register online, visit www.bluzcruz.com/registration. Registration will also be held from 2 to 7 p.m. Friday at Martin’s at Midtown, 1101 Belmont St. along with race packet pick-up. For more information, visit www.bluzcruz.com.

About Terri Cowart Frazier

Terri Frazier was born in Cleveland. Shortly afterward, the family moved to Vicksburg. She is a part-time reporter at The Vicksburg Post and is the editor of the Vicksburg Living Magazine, which has been awarded First Place by the Mississippi Press Association. She has also been the recipient of a First Place award in the MPA’s Better Newspaper Contest’s editorial division for the “Best Feature Story.”

Terri graduated from Warren Central High School and Mississippi State University where she received a bachelor’s degree in communications with an emphasis in public relations.

Prior to coming to work at The Post a little more than 10 years ago, she did some freelancing at the Jackson Free Press. But for most of her life, she enjoyed being a full-time stay at home mom.

Terri is a member of the Crawford Street United Methodist Church. She is a lifetime member of the Vicksburg Junior Auxiliary and is a past member of the Sampler Antique Club and Town and Country Garden Club. She is married to Dr. Walter Frazier.

“From staying informed with local governmental issues to hearing the stories of its people, a hometown newspaper is vital to a community. I have felt privileged to be part of a dedicated team at The Post throughout my tenure and hope that with theirs and with local support, I will be able to continue to grow and hone in on my skills as I help share the stories in Vicksburg. When asked what I like most about my job, my answer is always ‘the people.’

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