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“Staycations” along canals and trails offer free ways to rediscover New York, boost economy

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PITTSFORD, NY (WROC) Post-shutdown in Rochester, John Courain with Genesee Waterways Center in Pittsford is hoping more people will be, “back in the sunshine and doing activities.”

Courain says the Erie Canal is a no brainer when it comes to breaking away from the everyday. “We do daily kayak rentals, as well as our whitewater park here.”

Genesee Waterways is just one business among six other locations along canals and the Empire State Trail offering free access to activities like water sports and biking. Courain says it’s all through a partnership with the state. 

“People are looking for a way to stay local,” says Brian Stratton, Director of the New York State Canal Corporation. Stratton says with many cancelling or cutting back vacation plans this summer due to Covid-19, they’ve got the perfect, safe solution: “Staycations”.

“It keeps people local, it keeps people in the community, and the Staycations program has partnered with local businesses like Genesee Waterways.” Stratton adds, “This is a support program that not only provides safety and the natural beauty of the Erie Canal… But it also supports local businesses,” he says.

Under Governor Andrew Cuomo’s New York Forward program, Cuomo is hoping programs like these will not only get people out, but deliver more foot traffic in shops to help boost the economy. Businesses along the canal say they will take it. 

“It’s great to have the town bustling with people,” says Shawn Missal with Pittsford Wine & Spirits. “Having more people walk in the door is always a good thing,” she adds.

Courain says come on out of the house, get in (or alongside) the canal, and get moving. Take a Staycation before summer is gone. “These are a dirt-cheap way to spend a Saturday afternoon or even a weeknight.”

If you want to sign up for a ride or a paddle in Pittsford, head to the Kenlou at Lock 32/ Lock 32 Whitewater Park (It is on the other side of the canal from Lock 32 State Park). For the other locations across New York offering activities, click here.  The Staycations program runs up until Labor Day. 

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