WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — Have you ever wanted to take a boat ride along the Arkansas River in Wichita? Now, you can!
ICT RiverRides inaugural season is underway, giving people of all ages the chance to experience the Air Captial from the water.
Captain Sherman Padgett is eager to share his love for boating and the City of Wichita with everyone who hops on board.
“We all have these places where we are just happy, and I think being on the water and on a boat is my happy place,” said Padgett.
Padgett grew up visiting the lake and recently retired from Wichita Public Schools. He served as the North High School principal for 12 of his 32 years with the district.
“I started asking kids, ‘hey, if I had a pontoon boat down on the river would you take a ride? How much would you pay?’ They were all like, ‘that would be so much fun. Yeah, we would do it,'” explained Padgett.
The idea for ICT RiverRides then turned into a reality. Padgett worked with the Wichita Park and Recreation department for more than a year to secure the correct permit while fixing up his mother’s 1998 pontoon boat.
“This boat had been in the family for a number of years, and it was kind of getting old, and instead of trying to reupholster everything, I took the opportunity to kind of remodel it and turn it into this little tour boat,” he said.
The former educator’s ultimate goal is to offer an inexpensive experience for everyone, whether that be people visiting from out of town, a couple on a date at the Keeper of the Plains, or the family strolling along the river.
“I gotta keep the price low, so those people that might just be down walking might say ‘hey, let’s jump on,'” he said.
That’s exactly what one family did when they noticed Padgett and his boat on a Friday afternoon in May.
“We have lived here our whole lives. This is our first time on the river,” said Crystal Fleming. “It’s so exciting. Wichita looks a lot more beautiful from over here.”
The $5.00 ride begins under the Douglas Ave bridge and goes north by Exploration Place and Veteran’s Memorial Park before winding by the Keeper of the Plains and returning to the starting point. Each ride is an estimated 15 minutes.
ICT RiverRides operates from Thursday through Sunday from 1 p.m. to 10 p.m., weather permitting.