Second Annual Paddlefest Aims at Changing the Cuyahoga River's Image

Jun 20, 2019

Paddlers will take the Cuyahoga River by storm in honor of this weekend’s 50th anniversary of the 1969 river fire.

At least 200 canoes, kayaks and paddleboards are expected to participate in the second annual Paddlefest, hosted by the group Share the River.

Organizer Jim Ridge said it shows how the River’s image has improved from pollution to recreation.

“We’re all a little bit tired of seeing that photo pulled up and have folks use that as shorthand to kick Cleveland in the shin," Ridge said. "We hope that when folks see close to 200 canoes, kayaks and paddleboards recreating on the body of water that launched the environmental movement, folks will say, ‘That’s not the Cuyahoga River or the Cleveland that we thought we knew.’”

Ridge said recent flooding won’t be an issue because steel bulkheads flank the section where paddlers gather. He said the U.S. Coast Guard has been a big help in ensuring the channel is clear for Paddlefest.

The event is Saturday from 8 until noon.