Volunteers, sponsors and parents all hope a day of fun and learning about the Cuyahoga River will foster better care of it in the future.
The Kent Parks and Recreation Department on Saturday hosted the 22nd annual Cuyahoga River Day at Plum Creek Park. The three-hour event attracted dozens of young visitors who helped celebrate the restoration of Plum Creek — when they weren't petting frogs from the creek, building grass mats or practicing life jacket safety.
"Rivers are the arteries and veins of the Earth," Bonnie Tomassetti of the Native American & Veterans Center said during a group discussion. "You can go longer without food than you can water. We've got to keep the river clean."
River Day was one of 19 similar events across Northeast Ohio. Collectively, the events sought to shine a light on the cultural and historical value of the river. Though the children also made masks and fed turtles, Kent Parks and Recreation naturalist Cathy Ricks said the focus was never far from the creek and river and what they mean to the region.
"We want (children) to be happy to be outdoors, have opportunities to kayak, to walk and be comfortable," Ricks said. "By helping to restore Plum Creek and celebrate that, we're helping the Cuyahoga River, which I was telling the kids, flows into Lake Erie, which flows into the Atlantic Ocean, which is part of the whole Earth.
"In our case, the helping starts here."