Chicago River WatershedFriends of the Chicago River is pleased to announce Chicago River Day 20/20: See What You Can Do, a 20-day celebration of the 20th anniversary of Friends' signature stewardship event, Chicago River Day. To celebrate this critical milestone and the river's improvement, from April 23 through May 12, 2012 Friends will host a series of events on and beyond the banks of the Chicago River culminating in Chicago River Day. Intended to appeal to people of all ages across the watershed, events range from family-friendly fish projects and habitat days to temporary river tattoos, a river-based scavenger hunt, and a contest for four to stay overnight in Friends' historic McCormick Bridgehouse & Chicago River Museum on the Michigan Avenue Bridge. Most events are free and open to the public. For A Night at the Bridgehouse Museum applications, scavenger hunt details, or other event information, visit www.chicagoriverday20-20.org or contact Meshawn Ayala at (312) 939-0490, ext. 18. Events will be continually added and updated through the spring.
"When Friends of the Chicago River founded Chicago River Day in 1992 just 25 people signed up, celebrating the river by dragging old shopping carts, mattresses, and plastic bags from its banks," said Margaret Frisbie, Friends' executive director. "Those volunteers were early visionaries who, like our founders, could see past the garbage to a future for the Chicago River that was bright and hopeful. And they were willing to work with us to make that future happen.
"Twenty years and more than 43,375 River Day volunteers later, the Chicago River is no longer a forgotten alleyway filled with sewage and junk. It is vibrant and alive with people in canoes, kayaks and tour boats, 70 species of fish, 60 species of birds, and all kinds of native animals including beavers, muskrats, and snapping turtles. We are thrilled with the progress and grateful to the many people and partners who helped make it happen."
Chicago River Day 20/20 has many partners who are working with Friends to make the celebration a success and many of them will host their own activities to celebrate the river. Among them are the Chicago Park District, Metropolitan Water Reclamation District, and DePaul University - all of whom have worked with Friends before. Organizations across the watershed are welcome to join in and Friends will promote their river related events, too.
Chicago River Day is a watershed-wide stewardship day on which volunteers of all ages work together at 65 locations to improve the Chicago River. In addition to the Chicago River Day 20/20 events, on Chicago River Day itself, participants are expected to clear over 25 tons of garbage and debris from river banks, remove hundreds of bags of harmful invasive plants, and repair miles of river-edge nature trails. These hands on activities help people see first-hand how their actions can make the region a better place to live, work, and recreate. Last year, Chicago River Day had 4,000 volunteers at 62 locations.
Founded in 1979, Friends of the Chicago River is an award winning nonprofit organization whose mission is to improve and protect the Chicago River. With over 5,000 members, volunteers, and online advocates, Friends works to make the river greener and more accessible, while building awareness of the benefits that a clean, healthy river can bring to the watershed. Last year, Friends' long time vision of a swimmable-fishable Chicago River became much closer with the approval of new recreational use standards by US EPA.