Saturday, April 26, 2003

Purple will be all the rage at daylong 'People Bridge' party

The Cincinnati Enquirer

NEWPORT - Everyone's wearing purple today - just like the bridge.

An all-day festival celebrates the opening of the Newport Southbank Bridge over the Ohio River as the nation's longest pedestrian-only bridge between two states.

The day of mostly free activities starts at 7 a.m. with a hot air balloon liftoff, and continues through 7 p.m. on and near the former L&N Railroad bridge between Newport and Cincinnati.

It's been recycled, renamed and repainted purple. Today's the official opening of the "Purple People Bridge," which Friday night hosted a party - complete with purple fireworks - for 300 people from the governments and agencies that made the bridge possible.

The Kentucky General Assembly approved more than $4 million in funding to help the city of Newport and Southbank Partners realize their collective dream of a pedestrian walkway over the Ohio.

"It's just very popular with the community. Everyone we talk to is excited," Laura Cook, Corporex Cos. spokeswoman, said Friday as she readied for the first-night events.

Cook is one of three Northern Kentucky public relations executives giving time to the project. Stan Lampe of Ashland Inc. and Mae Keszei of Gateway Community and Technical College also worked to plan today's festivities.

The schedule:

• 7 a.m.: Citi Hot Air Balloon Derby: Five hot air balloons launch from Riverboat Row: The Citigroup balloon; a Newport balloon with Newport Mayor Tom Guidugli and City Manager Phil Ciafardini; Covington with Mayor Butch Callery and City Manager Greg Jarvis; Bellevue with City Councilman Dick Camm and City Manager Don Martin; and Fort Thomas with Mayor Mary Brown and City Manager Jeff Earlywine.

• 8-9:30 a.m.: Susan G. Komen Run/Walk for the Cure participants cross the bridge.

• 7:30-11:30 a.m.: Southbank Bicycle Race: Begins in Cincinnati, crosses the bridge into Newport and then along Riverboat Row.

• 11:15 a.m.: A parade starting at 11th and Monmouth streets at the Louis Trauth Dairy will travel through Newport on Monmouth Street and cross the bridge.

• Noon: Ohio opening ceremony: On Cincinnati approach with Cincinnati Mayor Charlie Luken.

• 1 p.m.: Kentucky side opening ceremony: On the Newport approach with members of the Kentucky General Assembly, Newport Mayor Tom Guidugli and the Newport city commissioners.

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