The Cuyahoga River famously caught fire on June 22, 1969, inspiring several songs and sullying Cleveland’s reputation for generations. Ultimately, though, the incident sparked conservation efforts and led to the Clean Water Act. Today, the water flowing by the Greater Cleveland Aquarium is home to more than 60 species of fish along with rowing crews, paddleboarders, boaters and others enjoying the river’s scenic beauty. That’s the story we want to tell as we commemorate the 50th anniversary of the last time the river burned; not the burning but the inspiration and restoration.
Northeast Ohio is commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Cuyahoga River’s last fire as to remind us of the importance of our natural resources and as an opportunity reflect on how far Northeast Ohio and the nation have come in cleaning up our waterways. So far this year, the Aquarium has participated in the River Sweep cleanup, made presentations to more than 30 groups on the history of the Cuyahoga River and conducted a river walking tour that ended with a citizen science water quality test.
On the actual anniversary, we have our grand finale commemoration event. We’re inviting the community to a Cuyahoga50 #RiverReborn Family Celebration filled with feel-good music and hands-on kids’ activities. Join the Cleveland History Center, Cleveland Museum of Natural History, Creative Concepts in Music’s Sheela Das, Eriesponsible, Holden Forest & Gardens, International Women’s Air & Space Museum, musician Brent Kirby, National First Ladies’ Library, Nautica Queen, Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District (NEORSD) and Sierra Club for an afternoon of make-and-take crafts, games and informational displays focused on being good stewards of our natural resources. All activities are included with Aquarium admission.
Whether it’s making recycled water bottle fish, ship or plane, taking a narrated walk along the Cuyahoga or guessing how long it takes trash to break down, this rain-or-shine afternoon event is full of fun, hands-on activities and organizations that will help future generations gain a better understanding of their relation to and impact on natural resources.
Many thanks to NEORSD for its partnership and support of these initiatives.
(If you’re able to stick around on the West Bank of the Flats, there’s a Farmer’s Market beginning at 4pm steps away at Jacobs Pavilion at Nautica AND an evening Cuyahoga River Boat Parade that day too!)