Casale's in the Sand

by Kristin Casale, Reporter

I attended River Day for the second year in a row May 19, and it was even more fun than last year's event.

The annual Munroe Falls outing along the Cuyahoga River in Brust Park focuses on education and preserving the quality of the water.

Last year's event provided attendees with a self-guided hike on the Munroe Falls Bike & Hike Trail, with representatives from local environmental groups educating the hikers.

But this year, the city added a plant sale, live music and a pancake breakfast into the mix. Without these additions, I still would have enjoyed River Day because I love spending time outside. But these other activities made the experience even better.

The goal of this year's River Day was to clear brush from the north streambank so the city can create a picnic area. Attendees were invited to help Twin Falls United Methodist Boy Scout Troop 172 with the task.

I declined, but enjoyed hearing City Councilmember Gary Toth describe the benches and open areas planned for the park.

Before going down to the river, though, I had pancakes and sausage provided by the Munroe Falls Fire Rescue Association.

I arrived at the fire station at 8:30 a.m., and the parking lot was packed. The demand for pancakes was so high the firefighters could not cook them fast enough.

I went to the line three times because on my first two attempts, they were in the process of preparing more. I felt sorry for firefighter Timaki Kennedy, who had to apologize each time someone went up for pancakes and had to wait.

The firefighters did not just cook that morning, though. Many of them talked with attendees they knew, and Fire Chief James Bowery walked around the room serving coffee.

I asked him whether it was typical for him to serve coffee during the department's breakfasts, and he only smiled and said, "This is just what I wound up doing."

After filling up on pancakes, I walked next door to the Munroe Falls Historical Museum, where the Munroe Falls Garden Club hosted its spring plant sale with more than 30 plants.

Clubmember Elsie Ball reminisced about the early years of the sale, when it began in the mid-1980s.

"When we first started out, we just had a few plants, and we had it on the steps of the Town Hall," she said.

The club helped me select a plant for my mom, who has trouble keeping them alive. The women recommended a hosta, because it is known for thriving under most conditions. The plant now is on my mom's back porch.

When I eventually made it to Brust Park for the main event, everyone I talked to commented on how great the weather was -- sunny and warm.

River Day has a reputation among city officials for taking place during poor weather without fail. Parks and Recreation Boardmember Linda Leonard said, "This is my seventh River Day, and it's rained four out of the seven."

Mayor Frank Larson "guaranteed" several weeks before this year's event that it would not rain, and he commented that he came through on his promise.

"What did I tell you?" he asked. "I said, 'I'll handle the weather.'"

River Day was a great way to spend a Saturday morning. I looked forward to the event for several weeks, and I was not disappointed. I hope the city organizes River Day in a similar way next year.

E-mail: kcasale@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-686-3917