A kraken bobbed in the pond and Riverbrook Regional YMCA was awash in green on Saturday for St. Paddle’s Day, the unofficial holiday of the Wilton Open paddleball tournament that drew 224 competitors and more than 100 fans to the event that was played in Wilton and several other remote locations. The kraken is the open’s mascot, with one of the sponsors being Kraken Rum.
The event is a fundraiser for local YMCA programs that serve more than 3,600 children annually, including summer camp, swimming lessons, STEM programs, and activities that help special needs youth gain self-reliance and enjoy meaningful relationships.

“This is the 36th year of the Wilton Open,” said Todd Parker, co-organizer with Russ Kohl. Parker added it is the longest-running paddle championship in the country. A women’s division was added five years ago. The event was expected to raise $3,000 to $4,000. Sponsors included Kraken Rum,Wilton Physical Therapy and Wilson’s sporting goods.

The game, originally a cold-weather game that is now played year-round at the Y, is a fast-paced cross of tennis and handball. It is played over a net like tennis but on a smaller court with paddle racquets. Players often use the 16-foot-high fencing around the courts to carom the ball across to their opponents.
“People are very passionate about the sport,” Riverbrook Regional YMCA executive director Bob McDowell said, adding the Y started out with just one court.
“It’s popular with youth through seniors and can be recreational or very competitive,” he said, adding it fulfills the Y’s three pillars: healthy living, youth development, and social responsibility. The latter is fulfilled in that funds raised are invested in children’s programming. “We’re thrilled to have the Open here.” he said.