Sunday, June 30, 2002

Paddlers hit the Ohio

By Lew Moores
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        By midmorning, the sloping Public Landing was blanketed with a bright, multicolored mosaic of canoes and kayaks, pulled from the Ohio River by quite possibly the largest flotilla of paddlers on this section of the Ohio in 200 years.

        About 310 canoes and kayaks paddled by 485 river enthusiasts made the six-mile trip from the Four Seasons Marina in East End to downtown Cincinnati.

        “This is exciting,” said Howard Hawkins, of North Avondale, as he stood on the Public Landing, his kayak at his feet. “I do a lot of paddling, but to see this many people out on the river is amazing. This is an historic occurence, something the city should be proud of.”

        The first Ohio River Run, which organizers hope will become an annual event, was meant to draw attention to the Ohio River Corridor Initiative of the Cincinnati- based Metropolitan Growth Alliance. The alliance envisions greenways and continuous hike/bike trails along the Ohio from Madison, Ind., to Maysville, Ky.

        “We wanted to celebrate the natural beauty and the history of the Ohio River,” said Brewster Rhoads, who coordinated the event. “We wanted to use the opportunity to connect and re-connect people with the river, to re-dedicate ourselves in that emotional, very personal and spiritual way to protecting and promoting it.”

        It attracted those who have paddled before but never on the Ohio, and people like U.S. Rep. Rob Portman (R-Terrace Park) who first began paddling on the Ohio when he was in high school.

        “I believe we can use this great resource,” said Mr. Portman, believed to be the first and only congressman to practice rolls in his kayak in the congressional pool on Capitol Hill. “It's a great asset to the region. We need to preserve it and use it more. It's a treasure we have in our community.”

        John Rothwell and his daughter, Katie Marie, 11, of Morrow, are experienced kayakers, paddling the Little Miami River and Caesar's Creek, but this was their first time on the Ohio.

        “It was good fun,” said Mr. Rothwell. “It's just like a big lake that moves.”

        Robert Hiler, of O'Bryonville, was there with his two sons, Duncan, 10, and Noah, 6, all three sharing an ocean kayak.

        “I love kayaking,” said Duncan.

        “I really like speedboats, too,” said Noah.


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