By Janice Morse and Erica Solvig
The Cincinnati Enquirer
Sunday's wet weather almost made Nancy and Dale Hopster back out of their annual Labor Day trek down to Cincinnati riverbank to watch the fireworks.
After a morning of debate, the Greenhills couple and two of their three children - who usually stake out their spot by 10:30 a.m. - did not head down to Sawyer Point until 1 p.m. Yet, because of the slow attendance early in the day, the family still managed to land a prime spot on the Serpentine Wall.
"We almost weren't going to come," says 41-year-old Dale Hopster, who was sitting on a blanket with his wife of 14 years. "It was a last minute decision. We lucked out."
As did several hundred thousand people who crowded the banks of the Ohio River late Sunday to enjoy the 27th annual Toyota/WEBN fireworks.
Entertaining the kids
Bingo the Clown - a.k.a. Chris Schriever of Deerfield Township - spent most of Sunday painting faces and making colorful balloons turn into hats, dogs and other animals. One youngster even requested a dragon.
"I didn't know how to make one," says Schriever, a clown for more than 10 years. "A little boy helped me turn little a dinosaur into one."
Newport Police Capt. Pat Moore is no stranger to Riverfest.
In his 19th year on patrol, Moore knows the major challenges are controlling crowds and controlling traffic.
"Ever since they made it alcohol-free, arrests have declined significantly," he said.
Still, there's plenty for police to do.
At least 60 officers from Moore's department and the Ohio National Guard were on duty Sunday - and, he said, for all Newport officers, "it's a mandatory 12-hour day."
Go duck, go!
Joanne Rahaim of Clifton had a prime spot near the Purple People Bridge to watch her rubber duck - and about 80,000 others - dumped into the Ohio River for the annual regatta.
The mother of four, who was one of many wearing the yellow duck necklace, joked that should her duck win her the car or $1 million prize, she would pay off her children's college educations.
"I'm thinking the chances of winning is slim to none, but it's for a good cause," the first-year Riverfest attendee said of the race, which raises money for the FreeStore/ FoodBank.
David Schmidt, 33, of Erlanger, was "all frogged out" for his 15th year at Riverfest.
He was wearing a frog hat, a WEBN T-shirt and had his portable radio tuned a song by "The Toadies."
"Each and every year it gets bigger and better," he said.
End of summer
By early afternoon, Melodie Lewis, 45, of Warsaw, had the ideal setup for viewing fireworks: seated in a red Radio Flyer wagon on the riverbank, near the Belle of Cincinnati riverboat.
For her, there's no better way to end the summer viewing the fireworks from the Newport side of the river, with the Cincinnati skyline as a backdrop.
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