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Hit the Decks Returns as a Five-day Celebration

Enjoy some well-deserved time out shopping, eating, drinking and supporting your favorite businesses and attractions during the 2021 “Hit the Decks” celebration.

Portsmouth’s annual event will be extra special this year, after being canceled in 2020 due to the pandemic.

“Come out to play! It’s about sunshine filled days and warm nights outside. It’s about the restaurants, shops, hotels, activities and attractions that are welcoming you to kick off YOUR Summer on the Seacoast,” organizers write.

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Typically a one-day event, this year Hit the Decks will feature five days of fun. This will spread the love across all participating businesses, and avoid having throngs of people flooding into Portsmouth for one day. From May 12 through 16, guests can get outside, enjoy the sunshine and support local business across one of New Hampshire’s favorite cities.

The celebration will feature restaurants, retail, lodging, arts, attractions and activities, each offering specials for Hit The Decks. The Seacoast Region is anticipating a banner season, according to a press release. Portsmouth has granted a historic number of outdoor dining permits, and the performing arts are expected to thrive as well.

Following the many hardships of the pandemic, including impacts on small businesses and local restaurants, the Chamber Collaborative of Greater Portsmouth has planned an imaginative, COVID-safe celebration this year. Over 50 Seacoast businesses will participate, and they are feeling encouraged and optimistic, says Martha Sullivan, spokesperson for Hit the Decks.

“[We’re] trying to spread the love, spread the activities, open up the space,” says Sullivan. “For a lot of us, it’s our first time coming out to eat and going out shopping,” she adds.

Hit the Decks will be different this year in light of the pandemic and “Seacoast Safe” practices, says President of the Chamber Collaborative of Greater Portsmouth Valerie Rochon in a press release.

“In the past, our membership loved hosting a huge one-day party along the decks, which we all embraced enthusiastically. But those embraces are just not possible this year, as we all know. So it has been gratifying and exciting, actually, to see local business leaders coming together to support one another, and to shine a light on what makes Portsmouth and the Seacoast a unique destination here in New Hampshire,” Rochon says.

Each day of the celebration will have a specific focus — Wednesday will be Restaurants, Thursday will be Retail, Friday will be Arts & Culture, Saturday will be Historic Homes and Sunday will be Activities & Attractions.

Aqua-colored Hit the Decks flags will both identify participating businesses and add a festive air to town, says Sullivan. Some shops will have outdoor displays as well, and outdoor dining will be offered in many of Portsmouth’s renowned restaurants.

While live music would usually be held centrally in one place, this year performers will be spread out across Portsmouth, playing on the street corners.

Another new, exciting element to Hit the Decks is the raffle. Simply scan the QR code found on posters or cards at participating businesses, and enter for a chance to win Buoy Local gift cards, “Deck Boxes” from local restaurants, and potentially a $500 travel voucher for Allegiant Airlines.

Can’t wait until May 12? Even better! “The Chamber Collaborative of Greater Portsmouth, City Hall and local business owners have worked incredibly hard to find innovative ways to keep Portsmouth and the Seacoast open for business.  The region is open for business right now — with a record number of outdoor dining options featuring beautiful decks, porches, patios and secret gardens.”

The city of Portsmouth has a mask ordinance in effect through the end of June. Hit the Decks will follow the city’s COVID-19 guidelines, and the Chamber Collaborative of Greater Portsmouth supports #SeacoastSafe, social distancing and wearing masks in public, and the city’s mask ordinance.

The entire event is being put on in a way that is “Seacoast Safe,” including many COVID-19 precautions.

“The pandemic is still upon us. The scientific evidence is clear: Wearing a mask and practicing social distancing slows the spread of COVID-19, therefore saving lives, keeping our economy strong, and supporting our work force, residents and visitors. We have seen encouraging progress with people making plans to visit the region — our #SeacoastSafe policies are working. We encourage everyone to do their part to protect the health of our workforce, our residents, our visitors and our economy,” says Rochon in a press release.

Click here the full list of 2021 participants and all the latest updates.

For more information, click here!

 

Cycle Your Way: Virtual Cycle the Seacoast Provides Flexibility

Learn how you can participate in the American Lung Association’s 12th annual Cycle the Seacoast event.

Looking for a great way to explore the outdoors while supporting lung health research?

The American Lung Association’s 12th annual Cycle the Seacoast fundraising ride has been reimagined as a virtual event. Cycle the Seacoast is happening now through June 30, 2021 and is open to participants from across the world.

Profits raised from Cycle the Seacoast support public health efforts related to lung disease, including COVID-19 research. Funds benefit both national and local initiatives such as the Open Airways program, which helps teach elementary school children how to better manage their asthma.

In 2020 the Cycle the Seacoast event went virtual only a month prior to what was supposed to be event day due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, for this year’s event, they had time and experience on their side. Some of the aspects of the virtual event will carry over even when Cycle the Seacoast is back in person as well.

One of the advantages of the ride being virtual this year is the accessibility for anyone who wants to participate, no matter where in the world they live. Everyone that registers for the event will have access to various fundraising tools and are able to earn incentives and prizes throughout the event.

The 2020 event, despite unexpected obstacles, was incredibly successful and raised $80,000. The fundraising goal for this year is $100,000. Since 2010, the annual event has raised almost $1 million for the American Lung Association.

The American Lung Association has committed $25 million over the next three years for their COVID-19 Action Initiative. This initiative will help provide lung health education and masks to those in need, protect public health by advocating for COVID-19 and flu vaccines in underserved communities of color and invest in respiratory virus research to prevent future outbreaks.

Interested in participating? Visit the Cycle the Seacoast event website to register and find more information. There are options to register as an individual, find a team or begin one. Choose the “Cycle Your Way” option and use the discount code “NHMAG” for $10 off registration. From there, you will receive everything you need to successfully participate in the virtual event.

Cyclists can complete 25, 50 or 100 miles of riding, either on an indoor bike, outdoor bike or mix of both. The pace is self-directed as well, and participants can complete the challenge in segments if desired. These mileage goals are intended to be completed by June 30, but there is no mandatory mileage requirement.

One reason to participate is to “just to be part of something bigger than yourself,” says Melissa Walden, development manager for Cycle the Seacoast and the American Lung Association. “A lot of people feel a little bit helpless in these times. Seeing all these people get out and ride in support of lung health will help you get motivated and have a sense of community.”

Walden says one of the biggest challenges with a virtual event is creating the mindset for participants that Cycle the Seacoast can still be fun and interactive despite the absence of an in-person ride.

All virtual participants that reach the minimum fundraising amount of $200, or $100 for participants aged 17 or younger, by June 30, 2021 will receive a medal and T-shirt. There are more incentives available when participants raise beyond the required amount, including an awesome cycling jersey.

As mentioned above, cyclists can choose any path, trail or road to complete the event. Starting in April, the event organizers will provide some sample route options throughout New Hampshire, Maine and Massachusetts, including the original in-person routes starting and ending at Cisco Brewers Portsmouth.

The American Lung Association will offer weekly challenges and giveaways beginning in mid-April. There are a variety of ways to connect with fellow participants and event organizers via social media. Download the free Cycle for Air phone app for easy fundraising, challenges and GPS recording, link your own GPS device to the Cycle for Air app and/or the Cycle the Seacoast Strava club, or join the Facebook group to stay in touch with participants around the world.

Feel free to reach out to event manager Melissa Walden with questions via email or phone: melissa.walden@lung.org / (207) 624-0306.

New Hampshire Magazine is a proud sponsor of this event.

Learn More Here!

NH's First Whitewater and Recreation Mill City Park coming to Franklin

New Hampshire will soon be the home of the first whitewater park in New England. The massive make-over for downtown Franklin includes a park and camping area.

In a story on WCVB, they report that Mill City Park at Franklin Falls has been years in the making. The nonprofit will transform the downtown section of Franklin into the whitewater park, surrounded by walking and biking trails, camping and even an amphitheater.

“There’s about 300 whitewater parks in the country, there’s over 30 in Colorado alone, but there’s not one up here,” founder of Mill City Park Marty Parichand said.

Construction is set to begin on the park in July, with perpetual waves built into Winnipesaukee River for kayaking, boogie board and whitewater rafting year-round. The opening is scheduled for the end of September.

“We are re-inventing ourselves in the outdoor recreation community and the whitewater park is the anchor, but we have several other things going on,” Franklin City Manager Judie Milner said.

The project with break ground on 13 acres of city-owned land that will become a free community adventure park, featuring mountain biking and climbing.

Campsite and cabin rentals will help fund the park. Officials expect more than 160,000 visitors a year.

“This area around us is kind of on the outskirts of the Lakes Region and has been forgotten, so all of this area we’ll build back up,” Milner said.

For more information, go to: https://www.wcvb.com/article/whitewater-new-hampshire-mill-city-park/35991249

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