BANGOR — Racers – those serious and light-hearted alike – braved the 39-degree water temperature for that springtime rite of passage known as the Kenduskeag Stream Canoe Race.

The 45th annual race was held today for canoeists and kayakers.

Most paddlers are serious about the race. But there’s also plenty of hijinks on water. Just like last year, participants included Gumby and a few men dressed as pirates. This time around, some people dressed as Easter Bunnies and one boat had a costumed space alien on board.

A shared goal of all participants is to avoid getting dumped in the cold water at the 6-mile falls, a challenging portion of the race. But dozens of canoes did. Some were destroyed when their canoes got caught in the rocks or were wedged under fallen trees.

“I had a nice little swim. It wakes you up,” said Jeff Byrnes of Portland, who wore a life-size plastic turkey on his head.

Last year, 889 paddlers in 479 canoes and kayaks entered the race. All told, the race covers 16½ miles from Kenduskeag to Bangor.

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