Kayak and Canoe Safety Awareness Week will kick off at the Calf Pasture Beach Boat Launch May 23 at 3 p.m.

Norwalk Mayor Richard Moccia and Wilton First Selectman William Brennan will present proclamations declaring May 23 through May 29 "Kayak and Canoe Safety Awareness Week" for the City of Norwalk and the Town of Wilton at a press conference on May 23 at 3 p.m. at the Calf Pasture Boat Launch in East Norwalk.

Those invited to attend include the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection Boating Division, the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla 72, the Norwalk Police Marine Division, the Wilton Police Department, the Wilton Fire Department, the Norwalk Harbormaster, the Norwalk Harbor Commission, the Norwalk Department of Recreation and Parks, the Small Boat Shop of Norwalk and the Outdoor Sports Center of Wilton.

Kayaking has grown over the years in the region, and as the number of kayakers has grown, so has the need to educate those involved in the sport on the basics of boating safety, organizers say. Many organizations make safety information available to the boating public and one goal of this weeks' effort is to provide boaters with this information for free and to encourage the public to educate itself on kayak and canoe safety, organizers say. Several boating safety workshops are planned for the week.

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The Week's Events:

On May 25 at 6:30 p.m, the Small Boat Shop, 144 Water St. in South Norwalk at Rex Marina, will be conducting a free safety presentation, including demonstrations of basic safety equipment, the appropriate use of different types of boats, and in-water capsize rescue techniques at their docks. Call Ric Klinger or Gaeton Andretta at 203-854-5223 for more details.

On May 26 at 6 p.m., The Outdoor Sports Center of Wilton will be conducting a free safety presentation including demonstrations of basic safety equipment, the appropriate use of different types of boats, and in-water capsize rescue techniques. This event will take place at the Norwalk Sailing School at Calf Pasture Beach, Norwalk. Call Mark Bodian at 203-762-8797 for more details.

On May 28 and May 29 of Memorial Day weekend, which marks the beginning of the boating season for many people, volunteers from several organizations will be stationed at the Calf Pasture Beach boat launch to hand out free U.S. Coast Guard "Operation Paddle Smart" literature to paddlers launching their boats. This effort is a means to "go to the paddler" with the helpful information and may help "plant the seed" that kayak safety is something that needs to be learned, organizers said.

On May 28 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., the U.S. Coast Guard Aux Flotilla 72, headquartered at Calf Pasture Beach, will be conducting free, voluntary vessel safety checks at the Calf Pasture Beach boat launch alongside the volunteers handing out safety literature. Inspections will also be available during the week by appointment. The vessel and equipment safety checks will help insure personal safety while out on the water. Call Robert Talley at 718-785-9663 for more details.

The organizations participating in this effort have been a part of the Norwalk and Wilton communities for many decades and for many years have sponsored free safety workshops and offered good, sound safety advice at the point of sale of many boats and therefore have much experience in the matter of kayak and canoe safety.

The Norwalk River Watershed Association, incorporated in 1996, is a not-for-profit membership organization whose mission is to improve the water quality and aesthetic value of the 40,000-acre Norwalk River watershed; to encourage recreational use of the existing trails and open space; and to promote research, education, cooperation, and action on the part of the stakeholders in the seven watershed towns in Connecticut (Ridgefield, Redding, Wilton, New Canaan, Weston, and Norwalk) and New York.