CLEVELAND, Ohio — CLEVELAND, Ohio – Celebrate the Cuyahoga River’s revival with the Xtinguish Torch Fest: four days of events along 100 miles of water marking the 50th anniversary of the June 22, 1969, fire that sparked a national environmental movement.
“It’s a new narrative about our region,” said Arrye Rosser, interpretive and education specialist for the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. “The idea … is extinguishing the past, igniting the future.”
Spearheaded by the West Creek Conservancy, Xtinguish is the pinnacle of dozens of community events, exhibits, performances and conferences in Northeast Ohio this year. All mark the Cuyahoga’s transformation from “an open sewer through the center of the city” to an active fishery and watersports playground.
Dozens of organizations are pitching in on Xtinguish, where the torch will be passed from the headwaters of the Crooked River near Burton, through Akron and to Lake Erie. The event includes a walk along the entire river, led by Sharon Day, Ojibwe water walker from Minnesota.
Here’s what to mark your calendars for:
Headwaters Park, Geauga Park District
1 p.m. June 19
Ceremonial blessings and Native American drums by the Lake Erie Native American Council shall honor the region for which the “Cuyahoga” (translated as Crooked River) was named. The event will also include a celebration of Juneteenth, marking black emancipation and honoring African Culture through libation ceremonies and drum circles.
4 p.m. June 20
A ‘Passing of the Torch’ ceremony begins at 6 p.m. in Riveredge Park and include an unveiling of a commemorative relief.
11 a.m. June 21
Enjoy a free hot dog lunch, live music, games and educational stations at Water Works Park, 2025 Munroe Falls Avenue, Cuyahoga Fall, OH 44221.
Then join the community for a downtown concert, with food and drinks, at 6 p.m. on the banks of the Cuyahoga.
10 a.m.-3 p.m. June 21
Formerly dubbed the Blue Heron Homecoming, Cascade Valley Metro Park in the Summit Metro Parks includes free rain barrels, free trees, fishing and kayaking demonstrations, live music, free lunch and walking tours of the Gorge dam. Hands-on activities will help guests understand the importance of water quality.
4 p.m. June 21
This stop of the passing of the torch will be rich in history, present efforts regionally, and will be host to numerous dignitaries.
1 p.m. June 22
Share the River presents the second annual Blazing Paddles, a 5.7-mile standup paddleboard race, canoe & kayak celebration on the river.
The event will also serve as the official dedication of the river as a Ohio Department of Natural Resources Water Trail.
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