The Niobrara-area flooding brutalized the business she and her husband started six years ago.
Diane and Calvin Krupicka were getting good at outfitting, putting 3,000 customers a year in tubes and kayaks for a 5-mile float trip on the Niobrara River, and then picking them up before they got to the mouth of the Missouri River.
But the mid-March flooding that traumatized a corner of the town of Niobrara — swallowing bridges and businesses whole — also washed away their launch site’s parking lot rock, tables, toilets and trees.
No way they could open for their seventh year, and they’re still not sure about their eighth.
They’ve spent the spring and summer cleaning up, but that hasn’t been enough to make them feel better. And then they realized what would.
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“It’s therapy for us,” Diane Krupicka said. “We’re calling it, Turning Devastation into Relaxation.”
They started planning it earlier this summer, an all-ages celebration on the river with contests, games, door prizes, music, snacks and shuttle rides from town, a few miles downstream. They’re not serving alcohol but they’re not banning it: Partygoers are welcome to bring coolers with their own food and drink.
Their first date, July 20, was rained out, another example of nature’s disruptive forces.
But they didn’t give up. They rescheduled for noon to 6 p.m. on Sept. 1, the Sunday before Labor Day (the Saturday before is Nebraska’s first football game and, well, they wouldn’t dare).
Everyone’s invited, she said. The party is free, but she’ll collect donations to help restore the Niobrara boat dock near the Missouri.
She’s looking forward to the music and the sand castle contest and the ugly aloha shirt and ugly swimming suit contest, the inflatable bull anchored in the river and, finally, the flood-scarred launch site of Niobrara Adventures filling with smiles again.
“We want to see people have fun one more time on that area,” she said. “Because it was devastated so bad.”