EL PASO (KDBC) — There was more than just water in the river today. Rafters were out enjoying the hot warm weather and showing off their rafting skills at Raft the Rio event in Las Cruces.
Rafters from all over the borderland came to La Llorona Park to enjoy the river and many have been doing so for several years.
Two Las Crucens in particular have participated in this event for five years now and say each time their homemade raft gets better and better.
"This is my fifth raft. Our third paddle wheel design,” said Neil Hughes. “The paddle wheel is what is unique for this raft.”
“We’ve been working on this since January,” said Kaleb Hudson. “It was a collaborative effort.”
This year, Hudson and Hughes came in second in the homemade raft category.
There are different raft categories in this event, anywhere from least likely to finish to most creative theme and these Las Crucens entered in the fastest homemade raft category.
"We wanted to win,” said Hudson. “But we are happy with finishing"
But Las Crucens aren't the only ones who come and compete. El Pasoans couldn’t pass up on the opportunity either. The Jeglum family from El Paso competed in this event and it was the first time rafting for siblings Jonathan and Jocelyn
"We came to see some animals and compete in the race,” said Jonathan Jeglum.
“We felt some moving waves and thought they were snakes and beavers," said Jocelyn Jeglum.
And this year's drought did have a small effect on the amount of people who came down to the river. But Executive Director of the Southwest Environmental Center, Kevin Bixby said they weren’t going to reframe from hosting the event.
"A couple of weeks ago this river was bone dry,” said Bixby. “And about a week ago, not a lot of people had registered. It was way down than the normal, and I think it was because people looked and said ‘oh no way it’s not going to happen.’ But we knew there was going to be water, because we knew when the first irrigation release was going to happen."
But despite the drought, many people still drove to Las Cruces and showed off their creativity.