LAWRENCE — A short time after dozens of kayaks launched into the Merrimack River to compete in races on one side of the city yesterday, a Civil War battle erupted on the other side.
The Essex National Heritage Commission's Trails and Sails events kicked off this weekend throughout the Merrimack Valley, an effort to celebrate the region's heritage and promote organizations in Essex County.
"Different organizations put different programs on to highlight the heritage of the area," said Dan Gagnon, a member of the Lawrence Civil War Memorial Guard. "They are trying to get people out and about, to take pride in their community."
Two weekends of Trails and Sails events began Friday evening with ghost tours through the Hilldale Cemetery in Haverhill and a stargazing walk in Groveland, and continued yesterday in Lawrence with a walk to the Great Stone Dam and a series of kayak races at the Abe Bashara Boathouse. There was also a Bread and Roses Strike Walk in Lawrence, and an Andover History Hunt, among other events.
Five races launched within two hours at the boathouse yesterday morning, as more than 50 kayaks and canoes took to the river. Several of the boats were provided to registrants for free, said Ellen Minzner, boathouse director.
"We are providing registrants with free canoes and kayaks, so people who wanted to compete could have their own things," she said.
Registration was $5 for kids and $20 for adults. Proceeds benefited Lazarus House, and adults who donated food to the charity were given a reduced registration rate, said Shawn Burke, co-director of the kayak races.
As the kayak racing ended, Union soldiers walked out of tents pitched on Campagnone Common, where authentic Civil War cannons were fired and members of the Lawrence Civil War Memorial Guard enlisted kids for a children's muster.
"They were enthusiastic recruits," said Sean Sweeney, treasurer for the memorial guard.
He said the children were shown how Civil War soldiers worked in a unit, followed basic orders, used their rifles, and why all these things were necessary.
Watching the muster, 43-year-old Lawrence resident Marcy Shectman said events like the muster are invaluable lessons on the past.
"We learned stuff about Lawrence that we never knew," Shectman said. "I've been a resident of Lawrence for 40 years, and I knew none of this."
Upcoming Trails and Sails events
SATURDAY, SEPT. 25: Andover History Hunt, 97 Main St., noon to 4 p.m.
FRIDAY, SEPT. 24: Explore the Night Sky, 201 Washington St., 9 to 10 p.m., 10 to 11 p.m, 11 p.m. to midnight
SATURDAY, SEPT. 25: Explore the Night Sky, same location and times as above.
SUNDAY, SEPT. 26: Birds and Nesting Box Tour, 201 Washington St., 10 to 11 a.m.
SUNDAY, SEPT. 19: Bella Buildings Walk, 124 Washington St., 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
FRIDAY, SEPT. 24: Essex County Ghost Project, 207 Hilldale Ave., 7 to 9 p.m.
SATURDAY, SEPT. 25: Essex County Ghost Project, same location and time as above.
SUNDAY, SEPT. 26: Italian Festival, River Walk in Downtown Haverhill, noon to 9 p.m.
SUNDAY, SEPT. 19: Children's Muster, 200 Common St., 1 to 3 p.m.
FRIDAY, SEPT. 24: Twilight at Bellevue Cemetery, 100 Reservoir St., 6 to 8 p.m.
SATURDAY, SEPT. 25: Intro-Row, 1 Eaton St., 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.; Den Rock Park Hike, Route 114 across from North Andover Mall, 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.; Walk to Great Stone Dam, 1 Jackson St., 10 to 11 a.m.; Washington Mills Tour, 270 Canal St., 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Bread and Roses Strike Walk, 1 Jackson St., 1 to 3 p.m.
SUNDAY, SEPT. 26: Washington Mills Tour, 270 Canal St., noon to 4 p.m.
SUNDAY, SEPT. 26: Millionaires' Walking Tour, 305 Broadway, 1 to 3 p.m.
SUNDAY, SEPT. 19: Cathartic Poetry Workshop, 660 Great Pond Road, 11 a.m. to noon.
FRIDAY, SEPT. 24: America's Printing Evolution, 800 Massachusetts Ave., 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Local Public Television Tutorial, 430 Osgood St., 2 to 6 p.m.; The Parsons Barnard House, 179 Osgood St., 3:30 to 5 p.m.
SATURDAY, SEPT. 25: Local Public Television Tutorial, 430 Osgood St., 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.; America's Printing Evolution, 800 Massachusetts Ave., same location and time as above; In the Valley of Poets, 660 Great Pond Road, 10:30 to 11:30 a.m.; 400 Years of American Poetry, 137 Andover ST., noon to 3 p.m.
SUNDAY, SEPT. 26: Stevens to Stevens Walk, 137 Andover St., 1 to 2:30 p.m.