Minnesotans dreaming of a romantic gondola outing down the Venetian Grand Canal can skip the flight and opt for a canoe ride in Ely instead on this April Fools' Day.
City leaders announced the launch of a new canoe-hailing service called Canoeber on Friday morning, the latest installment of Ely's annual April Fools' joke.
The water-based Uber knockoff provides tourists who've had a few too many drinks or forgot personal belongings at their campsite a quick way to be chauffeured from shore A to shore B, according to a news release.
"Ely officials, sensing an opportunity in the marketplace, worked with a local technology company to develop the service and a mobile app," the release said.
While Uber trips end automatically after four hours, Canoeber serves all 1,500 miles of canoe routes in northern Minnesota's Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. The availability of rides will depend on Ely residents looking to earn an extra buck by paddling, the release said.
Not unlike any other City Council action, the April Fools' joke caused debate among residents who apparently disputed the installation of hundreds of cell towers around the 1.1 million-acre wilderness, according to the release. Mayor Chuck Novak pegged complainers as "just a bunch of whiners."
City officials added that there's been a surge of interest in self-paddling canoes, following last year's April Fools' Day release of the Original Ely Electric Paddle.
Jessie Bekker is a University of Minnesota student on assignment for the Star Tribune.