Not many people love Salida more than Stanley Naples does.
A Salida native, Naples, 83, is in town from Houston, Texas, with his partner, Jessica, and her sons Jake and Matt.
A 1953 graduate of Salida High School, Naples remembers the first FIBArk in 1949. It was quite the thing, he said, and it seemed like the entire town was on hand that day.
“The war was just over a couple years, and somebody came up with the idea of doing a kayak race down the river,” Naples said.
It was mostly a local thing back then, he said. The locals lined the banks of the river and rescued competitors who fell out of their boats.
Since then Salida has gotten very big, Naples said, and it’s a very exciting place to come to. FIBArk just gets bigger and bigger every year, he said.
This is the first time Naples has been to Salida in a number of years, although he said he would like to come back more often.
“What they gave me is a foundation that is second to none,” Naples said of his time at Salida High School. He said it was a great place to get a good education.
Growing up in Salida was a great way to begin life, Naples said, and obtain the values Salida has to offer. He said Salida is where he got his strong work ethic.
He moved to Denver for college in 1953 before embarking on a career in the oil business.
It’s a happy accident that FIBArk is going on when Naples is visiting. He said getting to see the boat races is a double bonus, and Salida is home to great people and spectacular scenery.
“It’s changed so much,” he said.