Northern Minnesota canoeists with a lazy streak will soon be able to cruise around lakes with ease and style.
A group of Ely outfitters made the amazing announcement that they are selling an electric, motorized canoe paddle available for use in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.
Combining the best parts of a motorboat and a paddleboat, they have created a truly one-of-a-kind outdoors item called "The Original Ely Electric Paddle."
But wait, there's more!
Due to its innovative design (springing from some even more creative minds), the paddle dodges the bans on motorized watercraft in the area.
The product will be unveiled April 1 (hint, hint) and will be available only in Ely.
But overexcited canoe enthusiasts might want to put the brakes on the impromptu trip to Ely. Take a look at the calendar and check that date again.
The Ely Chamber of Commerce is up to its old tricks, this time marking April Fools' Day with a doctored picture of a canoe paddle equipped with a boat's propeller. The news release claims the paddle evades the BWCA ban because the motor is mounted on the paddle, not the canoe.
Just to be clear, there is a ban on all motorized equipment possession and use in that area outside of 18 lakes designated for motor use.
Cherie Sonsalla, executive director for the Ely Chamber of Commerce, said the annual joke serves to bring attention to the town and drive tourism.
"Every year since we've been doing this we've received a travel award from Explore Minnesota for pulling off these pranks," she said.
Last year, a news release announced that the town would become a drone-free zone, and in 2013 Ely claimed to ban social media alongside the slogan "only the birds tweet."
Pranksters from the Ely Chamber of Commerce also created a failed attempt to become a host for the 2016 Summer Olympics.
"The one that stands out — because it was our first one — was the 'Say No to Canada' [campaign]," Sonsalla said. In that ruse, the town drummed up a fight against Canada because the northern nation wanted to annex Ely. A petition resisting the takeover gathered more than 1,500 signatures and massive support, especially when the mayor came out in favor of the takeover.
This time around, Mayor Chuck Novak is hailing the paddle. "Now canoeing this part of the world is accessible for nearly everyone," he said in the news release.
In the release, the town boasts: "The gateway to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness is known for its miles and miles of pure, unspoiled, drone-free beauty, as well as its sense of humor (especially at this time of year)."
Ben Farniok is a University of Minnesota student on assignment for the Star Tribune.