“Ohio Watershed Celebration a Success
By Melissa Busler
Stream Restoration Inc.

September 17, 2003

(Pittsburgh, PA) - Skies were sunny and the weather warm for the 2nd Annual Ohio Watershed Riverboat Cruise. The event was held in Pittsburgh, conveniently timed on September 17, one day prior to when the effects of hurricane Isabelle would be felt in the region. Over 425 participants, a diverse group of people including watershed groups, professionals, government agencies, interested citizens, business, industry, educators, students, and many homeschoolers, took part in the fun.

Activities started at 10:00 AM and included a time for networking, viewing many organizations' posters on display, Native American re-enactors, the Army Corps of Engineers discovery trunk of Lewis and Clark replica artifacts, the artwork of talented western Pennsylvania artist Robert Griffing, the Recycle Mascots, and more! The Kick-Off Event took place at 11:00 AM and featured four interesting speakers who talked about different aspects of the Ohio Watershed and got the crowd excited about the day! Cruise guests sailed aboard The Majestic, the largest boat of The Gateway Clipper's Fleet, from 1:00 PM -4:00 PM, exploring the Allegheny River.

The good luck was not restricted to the weather; a small drama played out when word spread that The Majestic may be too large to fit under a bridge under construction! A suspenseful moment occurred as participants held their breath as the boat just barely made it safely under the bridge; the voyage could continue as planned!

Networking and learning opportunities were abundant aboard The Majestic, as was just plain fun. 15-year old singer Molly Maiolo treated guests with her beautiful voice, singing classical songs and ending with The National Anthem. Maggie Hall and Dave Plank of the DEP provided a guided narration of points of interest passed along the banks of The Allegheny. There were 40 poster displays brought by various organizations for everyone to enjoy and learn from. The students especially enjoyed display features such as the National Aviary's live screech owl, the Western PA Field Institute's tank of live fish caught in the rivers that same morning, Pittsburgh's Voyager's water-testing equipment, Aquascape's plants and identification keys, and Wells Creek Watershed Association's live snapping turtle! Students also took part in a coloring contest and scavenger hunt activity, with all participants receiving prizes.

Several interesting sites passed along the journey included: Heinz Field, PNC Park, Clemente Park, Herrs Island, Washington's Landing Marina, the 40th Street Bridge (where George Washington crossed the river going back to Virginia), Conrail RR Bridge, and 9 Mile Island. The Majestic squeezed through the Highland Park Lock and Dam #2, a fascinating experience, with the Army Corps of Engineers providing a detailed explanation of the event.

On the trip downstream, a series of 4 interesting mini presentations were done on a variety of watershed topics. Yummy refreshments were enjoyed and great door prizes given away, including a limited edition Steelers football, tickets to a Penguins game, gift baskets from Westsylvania Heritage Corporation, and a valuable framed Robert Griffing print! The Pennsylvania Cable Network was on-hand to tape footage of the cruise; watch for it to be aired soon on PCN!

No one organization or individual was responsible for the success of the day; rather, it was the cooperative effort of 14 Sponsors and 46 Partners who worked together to plan the event and see it through to completion. The 3rd Annual Ohio River Celebration is planned for September 2004 in Pittsburgh and is sure to be just as fun and worthwhile as this year's event!

Cruise participants learned many interesting facts about the Ohio River Watershed and the city of Pittsburgh.

DID YOU KNOW:

  • Lewis and Clark's keel boat was built in Pittsburgh in 1803 and thus Pittsburgh can be considered the starting point of their great expedition west.
  • The nation's first oil well was struck in this watershed, and the first 2 glass factories opened near Pittsburgh.
  • Over 30 species of fish can be found in Pittsburgh's 3 rivers.
  • Over 3.9 million people visit Pittsburgh annually.
  • Point State Park's fountain sprays over 6000 gallons of water a minute!
  • Some of Pittsburgh's more well-known "firsts" include: US public tv station, US commercial radio station, World Series baseball game, ferris wheel, banana split, Mr. Yuk sticker, Bingo game, gas station, McDonald's Big Mac, polio vaccine, motion picture theater, robotics institute, retractable auditorium roof, and simultaneous heart, liver, and kidney transplant.
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