Thursday, September 8, 2016

Norristown River Update

It's been a while since I've reported on what's going on down at our riverfront. Half of Norristown is only vaguely aware that we HAVE a riverfront, or a river, for that matter. Meanwhile other communities like Conshohocken, Phoenixville and Manayunk have active groups advocating for more river recreation opportunities for their residents. Hey, Norristown, as summers get hotter, spending time down by, or on, the nice cool river is going to sound pretty inviting.

Currently, all our river recreation is centered at Riverfront Park (at the end of Haws Avenue) with events led mostly by the Dragon Boat Club of Norristown. One such event, very family-friendly, is this Saturday: RIVERFEST, from 2-6 pm. FREE event, with FREE boat rides in the dragon boats and outrigger canoes, cardboard boat judging contest and races, kids games and music. The DBC will have their grill fired up for hotdogs and other food for purchase. And lots of pirates will be wandering around. In fact, if you have an inner pirate, dress him/her up that day. Everyone is welcome. If you haven't been down to Riverfront Park, this is a great reason to visit.

One other thing, this Saturday, at 2:30 pm, a ribbon-cutting ceremony will open the new floating dock. Norristown Municipality installed this to make access to small boats easier. It's not just for the Dragon Club, but for the community--anyone with a canoe or kayak or rowboat can use it. You can fish off of it (just clean up after yourself, please--leftover fish guts and bait won't help others enjoy the river). You can just sit and dangle your toes in the cool water.

Another improvement you'll see Saturday is the Youth Dragon Boat Team. This was begun last spring. The kids trained and went on to medal in the races they attended. (In the photo above, that's GOLD medals the kids are wearing.) The Youth Team not only trains at the river, they participate in all kinds of fun activities ~ water balloon fights, tubing, etc. They do fundraisers through the year and they're currently working on a secret project which will be unveiled at Riverfest. They're always looking for new members. If you know a kid who might be interested, bring him/her along on Saturday.

One Youth Team member who turned 17 has decided to go on to train for Team USA. How cool would it be to have a native Norristonian on a USA dragon boat team at the World Championships? (It's not an Olympic sport yet, though there's been talk of including it.)

So there you have it, your river update. Come out Saturday and check it out for yourself. Bring your kids and your friends.

But also, start thinking beyond Saturday. Once the Lafayette Extension Project is completed and the section of our riverfront between Markley and Ford is opened for development, we can let developers tell us what that riverfront will look like, or we can start planning now what WE want for our riverfront. A walking path along the water? A picnic area? A fishing dock? A beach? A place to put in paddle boats? Maybe vendors for renting canoes and kayaks or selling food? A nice, inviting park the whole length of the riverfront, for our community to have and pass on to our children? And to entice visitors from communities without a river to come and spend money here?

Think about it. See you Saturday at Riverfront.

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