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West Farms Rapids

The Daily Plant : Wednesday, October 13, 2004

ROLLING BRONX RIVER BEARS GOLDEN BALL


On Saturday, October 9, environmental activists, business and community leaders, students, and long-time neighborhood residents came together along the banks of the Bronx River for the Sixth Annual Bronx River Golden Ball Festival. The day-long celebration began in the morning with walks, clean-up and restoration projects, and a canoe procession, and culminated in an afternoon festival at the Bronx Zoo’s Mitsubishi Riverwalk.

In the highlight of the festival, the Golden Ball, a shimmering sphere with murals depicting the river and its neighborhoods, was launched with a canoe procession at River Park in a ceremony performed by Youth Ministries for Peace and Justice and to the acclaim of a crowd of on-lookers.

"As caregivers of the Bronx River, we are pleased to host two major events each year, the Golden Ball Festival and the Amazing Bronx River Flotilla," said Alexie Torres-Fleming, Chair of the Bronx River Alliance and Executive Director of Youth Ministries for Peace and Justice. "The success of today’s event shows that we are expanding, broadening awareness of the river, and bringing in more community, government and business supporters each year."

Linda Cox, Parks & Recreation Bronx River Administrator and Executive Director of the Bronx River, added, "Today’s Golden Ball Festival caps a year of terrific progress with more than 600 people exploring the river in canoes and kayaks, and 12,000 volunteer hours logged by more than 60 community and school groups studying and caring for the river."

Also in attendance were Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe, Chuck Vasser and John Calvelli of the Bronx Zoo, which hosted the event, Dorothy Lewandowski, Queens Borough Commissioner (and former Bronx Borough Commissioner), John Bachman, Acting Bronx Borough Commissioner, and Anthony Archino, Urban Park Ranger and designer of the Golden Ball. Assembly Member Jeff Klein helped kick off the Golden Ball launching ceremony.

During the festival’s speaking program, Torres-Fleming and Adam Green, Founder and Executive Director of Rocking the Boat, presented Commissioner Lewandowski with a Greenland paddle. The paddle, handcrafted by Green, is made of citrus cedar and is highlighted on the paddle edges with red walnut. "This is the perfect tool for me to maintain my connection to the Bronx," said Lewandowski. "Each time I kayak with this paddle, I will be reminded of my many friends at the Bronx River Alliance who share my love of the water."

With food, live music, arts and crafts, and dance performances, the festival honored not only the Bronx River, but also Bronx people. The Bronx River Arts Center taught children how to create art from found objects, Rocking the Boat helped kids make model tug boats, and the City’s Parks Playmobile featured children’s games and activities. The Neighborhood Open Space Coalition, the Contemporary Ballet Theater, Friends of Bronx Park, Living and Learning by the Arts, the New York Restoration Project and Kips Bay Boys and Girls Club also took part in the festival.

"Parks & Recreation’s most important support is found in the communities that surround the Bronx River and Bronx Park," said Commissioner Benepe. "Your stewardship of this park has not gone unnoticed—we’re celebrating the Bronx River today because of your collective efforts at revitalization."

Ecologist Dr. Eric Sanderson of the Wildlife Conservation Society, headquartered at the Bronx Zoo, led a group on a walk through the Bronx River watershed, through the neighborhoods now known as Crotona Park East, Bronx River, West Farms and Bronx Park South. "This nature walk allowed participants to imagine what the Bronx was like before its modern development," said Sanderson. "In order to restore the Bronx River, we must first understand what it once was." Other tours took festival-goers through Woodlawn Cemetery and to Muskrat Cove and the new Mitsubishi Riverwalk exhibit at the Bronx Zoo.

The Golden Ball Festival was conceived in 1999 to celebrate and unite neighborhoods along the Bronx River and focus attention on its revitalization. The festival celebrates the Bronx River as a symbol of the vitality of the Bronx, embodying its solidarity, progress and exciting future.

The actual Golden Ball, created by Urban Park Ranger Anthony Archino, depicts the Bronx River and the communities that it flows through, as well as wildlife, restoration, and recreation activities.

QUOTATION FOR THE DAY

"Far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance
to work hard at work worth doing."

Theodore Roosevelt
(1858–1919)

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