The Friends of the Chicago River celebrate twenty years of Chicago River Day with twenty days of celebration. Between April 23 and May 12, there will be daily festivities honoring our hometown stream.
Twenty years ago, the Friends of the Chicago River started the Chicago River Day when 25 volunteers dragged shopping carts, mattresses, and plastic bags from its banks, so states the Friends website. Fast forward 20 years and the Chicago River Day event has grown to 4,000 volunteers at 65 locations. That is some impressive growth
Last year the event was helped along by Leinenkugel’s Brewery, new Mayor Rahm Emanuel, and rock group Chicago at an after cleanup party. It is amazing how a small band of faithful conservationist vanguards started a community uprising to clean the Chicago River.
Related: Clean up the Chicago River with Leinenkugel’s and friends
Check their website for the daily activities. Each day through this period there will be an event honoring the Chicago River from book signing from Chicago River photographer Richard Wasserman, to Chicago River pub crawl, and even a Chicago River Movie Night.
The twenty days culminate with the annual Chicago River Day on May 12, which will again bring volunteers down on the river in droves to clean up its shores. Activities include litter pick-up, recycling, trail maintenance, invasive species removal, and planting native seeds to name just a few.
The River has come a long way in twenty years thanks to the Friends of the Chicago River and other organizations, but there is still a long way to go. The Chicago River is still a river you smell before you see.
Related: American Rivers lists Chicago River number 4 most endangered
A representative for Chicago’s Water Reclamation District last year stated that cleaning the river was a waste of time. It is hoped that the dark days of the past are over in the raw sewage front as recently Mayor Quinn authorized $10 million dollars to clean up the river. This is exciting news and maybe President Obama’s hope that one day the Chicago River will be swimmable might someday be realized.
Related: Chicago River cleanup: is it a waste of time?
Leinenkugel’s Brewery hosted a friendly float down the Chicago River this past summer and invited the writer of this article. The trip began on the northern end of the city and ended downtown. The point of the excursion was to get a bunch of people on the river and see and smell the state of the river in order to bring publicity on the need for a cleaner stream.
Related: Jacob Leinenkugel’s Brewing Company Friendly Float on the Chicago River
After the float, Jake Leinenkugel swore to the gathering that they would help clean up the river. He then said he was flying home to Wisconsin where the water is clean. Thanks Leinenkugel’s for bringing attention and caring about the state of our river.
There are over 60 sites along the 100 mile stretch of river where volunteers will be working on May 12, so come out and get ready to clean. Groups of 10 or more must check in with Cynthia Fox at 312-939-0490 ext 13 in order to get located in the area that fits your need. I will be at the Ronan Park location. Hope to see you there.
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