The Town of Dryden Rail Trail Task Force will host a celebratory event for the grand opening of the Dryden Rail Trail on May 11.
The new trail will connect the villages of Dryden and Freeville using what used to be a Lehigh Valley railbed. The trail is part of the Dryden Rail Trail Project, a 20-mile-long trail that will also include the Jim Schug Trail and the East Hill Recreation Way.
Bob Beck, chair of the Rail Trail Task Force, told The Dryden Courier back in March that one of the biggest challenges of this project was obtaining easements between the Town of Dryden and 38 landowners who have owned sections of railbeds along the trail since the early 1980s.
“We’ve had the task of gaining trail easements from those current owners to allow […] the construction of the trail and public access for trail users, and we’re making huge progress in our three years of effort where we have most of those landowners on board,” Beck said. “Most have signed agreements, and we’re still working with some because there are 48 land parcels owned by 38 different owners. It was a huge, huge challenge, but it’s working very well.”
There will be an array of festivities held at the opening of the trail. Starting at 7:30 a.m., there will be a bird walk starting at the Freeville entrance of the trail, followed by several nature walks beginning at 10, 10:30 and 11 a.m..
Also at 10 a.m., the mayors of Freeville and Dryden will lead a pack of individuals from both entrances of the trail to walk toward the center, where speeches will be made and a faux golden spike will be driven into the ground as a sort of ribbon-cutting moment to officially open the trail. Also at that time, a 5k run and walk hosted by the Town of Dryden Recreation Department will begin, with a $10 registration fee. All proceeds from the 5k will benefit the Dryden Elementary School PTA. The first 60 participants will receive a train whistle. People are encouraged to dress up in their best train-themed costume, as there will be a costume contest.
“I’m looking forward to seeing families and kids come out and run and walk on the trail and then stick around and stay for the celebration afterwards,” said Melissa Reynolds, vice president of the Dryden PTA. “We’re really excited to be teamed up with Dryden Rec and with the Rail Trail. It’s a huge project for our area. We’re just hoping to increase the community involvement and bring in some proceeds for the kids of Dryden Elementary.”
All individuals in attendance for the grand opening will receive a train ticket, which they can bring along with themselves as they walk to get stamped at each of the five stations along the trail. Individuals will have the opportunity to turn in the ticket for raffle tickets depending on how many stamps they receive. (One stamp equals one raffle ticket. The maximum an individual can receive is five raffle tickets.) Certificates to local ice cream shops and restaurants, along with other items, will be raffled off at the event.
Lime Bikes will be available for those who do not want to walk the trail. There will also be food trucks from local vendors as well as live music from Madd Daddy, the local father-daughter duo of Ted and Maddy Walsh. Maddy is the lead singer and songwriter for The Blind Spots, a local rock band. Lilly Gershon, the owner of LilySilly Puppets and the director of the Lilypad Puppet Theatre, will be in attendance to hold a puppet-making workshop.