Raft Race will be canceled this Labor Day

Published 9:45 pm Monday, July 31, 2017

Just two years after a long-time Selma tradition returned, the Alabama River Raft Race has been canceled.

Organizer Victor Shaw said a series of events led to the cancellation, but the main reason is because of the liability that the permit placed him under.

“The reality is, I didn’t want to cancel it, and I tried to work out how we could do it differently,” Shaw said. “To get the permit, you have to make a lot of promises because safety is the number one thing. I don’t want that on my head if something happened.”

The raft race was an annual event i the 70s and 80s, when people would float down the river in homemade rafts and inflatable tubes in a race to see who finished first.

Two years ago, Labor Day in Selma was once again full of river racers. Last year, organizers were only permitted to race canoes and kayaks and did not feature the homemade rafts.

“I made a lot of promises to get the permit again this year, and I just don’t feel that we’re going to be able to do everything to keep all the promises that I made,” Shaw said. “The real problem is making everybody follow the rules and doing it safely to the terms of the permit.”

Shaw said having to cancel the race upset him, and he is disappointed things didn’t work out for the better.

“I’m completely disappointed,” he said.

Shaw is hopeful that in the future, organizers might be able to do something similar and family friendly.

“We’re still discussing what we could do differently but to put on an event that the state considers a regatta, which is what it is, you have to have a permit, and it’s a single person responsibility,” Shaw said.