Thursday, July 08, 1999

Annual event celebrates Huron River

Annual event celebrates Huron River
Wide array of activities planned for Huron River Day on Sunday
The Ann Arbor News
By Pamela Appea

When Huron River Day first took place in 1980, it was organized by a handful of environmentalists and concerned locals. The event, which featured bluegrass music and water-testing displays, attracted several hundred people, said longtime Ann Arborite Eunice Burns, one of the original organizers.

Now Huron River Day regularly brings as many as 5,000 individuals to Gallup Park for canoeing, bike tours, races, entertainment and other family activities, sponsored mostly by select corporations.

Organized by the Ann Arbor Parks and Recreation Department, the 19th annual Huron River Day will take place Sunday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Despite changes since its inception, the event still brings people together to celebrate the Huron River, said Irene Bushaw, department marketing specialist.

The river, which extends nearly 130 miles from its main outlet, is a major source of drinking water for nearly 60 surrounding communities in the Michigan area. In addition, residents and visitors regularly fish or canoe in the river.

Coordinators say the event will feature both new and old activities, including educational exhibits on recycling, drinking water safety and organic farming. Many organizations, including the National Wildlife Federation, the Ecology Center and the Ann Arbor Department of Landscapers, will educate the public with displays on local environmental issues from noon to 4 p.m.

“We think we have something for every age, every interest: athletes, environmentalists, music and nature lovers and vegetarians,” said Bushaw.

“It is a time for to be with their families,” she said.

Children can enjoy workshop theaters and music will be performed by various groups, including the Ann Arbor Civic Band.

Events that require paid admission and/or registration include the youth fishing derby, the mile run and various bicycling tours.

However the event hasn’t been without its mishaps. Burns aid just a day before the second annual Huron River Day, two canoeists almost drowned. An article in The Ann Arbor News at the time reported that a surge from a dam malfunction caused the canoe to overturn. Efforts from concerned onlookers aided the rescue of both canoeists.

Another year, said Burns, some individuals enthusiastically proposed jousting contests on a bridge over the river, but event organizers rejected the idea, fearing that participants might accidentally fall into the water.

Among the most popular spectator events are the Corporate Challenge and the Community Cup Mayor’s canoe races.

Event admission and parking at Huron High School are free. Call (734) 994-2284.

Originally published Thursday, July 8, 1999