Monday, September 1, 2003

Riverfest still an attraction

Hundreds of thousands turn out for annual fireworks

By Janice Morse and Erica Solvig
The Cincinnati Enquirer


Riverfest 2003
It was a fitting ending to a wet, cool summer: A damp, even chilly Third Federal Riverfest - though hundreds of thousands still turned out Sunday for the traditional end-of-season party and fireworks extravaganza on the Ohio River downtown.

The coolest accessory: A $5 umbrella hat, which beat the no-umbrella rule in the Riverfest area.

The crowd - which usually approaches half a million on land and water - was down significantly this year, Cincinnati fire officials estimated.

"Even if it rains, we're gonna stay," Clinton Taylor of Winchester, Ohio, said as he walked across the Taylor-Southgate Bridge to Newport with wife Shannon and their two children, 10-year-old Zach and 8-year-old Nikki.

And the 30-minute Rozzi fireworks show was worth it, with spectacular effects - including rainbow-like arches shooting from either side of the river set to a classic Who tune.

Kim and John Kuebler of Batavia especially liked a red and green parachute-like firework: "It looked like stoplights floating in the sky," said John.

Crowds were scarce in the overcast afternoon for the early hours of live music, food booths and entertainment like mechanical bull rides. But attendance swelled by evening as the 27th annual Toyota/WEBN fireworks approached. Shortly after 9 p.m., about 8,000 pounds of fireworks lit up the sky.

More than 1,000 boaters were in place to watch the show, which U.S. Coast Guard Lt. Jerry Kirchoff said was fewer than last year.

The Coast Guard reported one boating-under-the-influence citation, but police listed no other major incidents.

The weather was a boon for some businesses. Mitchell's Fish Market restaurant at Newport on the Levee reported double the business of last year's Riverfest haul.

imgVideo from WCPO


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