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>18th Annual Neuse River Day Celebration – Memorial Day Weekend

>Our Annual Neuse River Day celebration will be held on May 29th from 10:30 am to 4:00pm at Union Point Park, Lower Neuse Riverkeeper Larry Baldwin announced on Friday.

“Renewed Concentration of the River” is what the Baldwin anticipates for the annual event.

“Education has always been at the core of the Neuse RIVERKEEPER Foundation’s mission and, for several years, we’ve worked hand in hand with Craven County public school system providing an in-school water program called RiverKids,” he says.

“But this year’s Neuse River Day activities will stretch beyond what we have done in the past. Brian Westcott, our Program Coordinator, has implemented a number of inter-active booths specifically aimed at exploring and explaining the river in its natural habitat.”

Hundreds of area residents are expected to descend on Union Point Park in New Bern, Saturday, May 29, to celebrate the 18th Annual “Neuse River Day” celebration, sponsored by the Neuse RIVERKEEPER Foundation to promote the vitality and integrity of the Neuse which wends its way more than 200 miles through Craven County from Raleigh to the coast.

The free, all-day event features a kayak flotilla arriving at Union Point Park, canoe races, three raft races (to include an anything that floats category), wildlife and environmental exhibits, river cruises, a fossil dig, and a 42 foot Utility Boat on display provided by the United States Coast Guard.

Numerous food and drink vendors will be in attendance along with a dunk booth, moon walk and giant slide for the kids. The U.S. Coast Guard volunteer contingency, New Bern Recreation and Parks Department, New Bern Red Cross, and other interactive exhibits plus Cindy Rhoades aka Mermaid Morrigan, an award winning accomplished musician will perform “mermaid music” on her hammered dulcimer throughout the day.

“Neuse River Day is an annual family-oriented event sponsored by the Neuse RIVERKEEPER Foundation to draw attention to the Neuse, the challenges it faces, and the importance of promoting and protecting its quality and vibrancy for the enjoyment of present and future generations,” explained Larry Baldwin, the foundation’s Lower Neuse Riverkeeper. Baldwin is responsible for monitoring the quality of the Neuse from Goldsboro to the coast.

Baldwin said the featured (educational) exhibitors include Weyerhaeuser’s Cool Springs Environmental Education Center, Potash Corps-Aurora, The United States Coast Guard, and Fairfield Harbour Fishing Club. Potash Corps – Aurora will truck freshly excavated material to the park from its mining side in Aurora so young and old alike can dig for fossils while Weyerhaeuser will encourage visitors to handle non-venomous snakes, and the fishing club will provide fishing technique and equipment usage.

At 1:00 p.m., the special needs members of our community will compete in an exciting canoe race this year. There will be four two man teams, competing in three races for the grand prize, but we already know, all of them are winners!

Then there will be three exciting raft races to include a speed raft, regular raft, and most original raft category. This year all raft races are free to enter. The speed race will be human powered mechanical devices, and we already know Wally Seijo is going to be a fierce competitor. The regular raft race pits Baldwin’s Neuse RIVERKEEPER team against all comers. The only requirement is that the raft be human-powered. There are no restrictions as to the number of members per team for either race. Lastly, is anything that float’s. This is a new category for the event and is sure to be a crowd pleaser.

Individuals interested in participating in any of the competitions must register with the Neuse RIVERKEEPER Foundation and fill out an Annual Great Twin Rivers Raft Race registration form. All water events this year are free. Registration may be accomplished in advance or on the day of the event. For more information contact the foundation by calling 252-637-7972 or by visiting its web site at www.neuseriver.org.

Another attraction is a 90-minute scenic cruise on the Neuse River aboard the Joy Boy for $5 for adults and $3 for children 8 and under. Co-sponsored by Arlington Place and Camp Seagull of Arapahoe, owner of the vessel, the Joy Boy is a 60-foot, double deck catamaran capable of accommodating 124 passengers. Its departure times from Union Point Park are 10:30 a.m., 12:15 p.m., 2:00 p.m. and 4 p.m. Tickets may be purchased on the day of the event starting at 10:00 a.m. at the NRF information tent.

“The proceeds from this event will be used to advance the mission of the Neuse RIVERKEEPER Foundation,” according to Mary Anne Harrison, the foundation’s president.

“Our mission is to protect, restore and preserve the Neuse River basin through education, advocacy and enforcement in order to provide clean water for drinking, recreation and enjoyment to the communities that it serves,” she said.

The Neuse River has been one of the most environmentally threatened waterways in the country. From its origin at the confluence of the Eno River west of Durham, the Neuse River courses over 200 miles to the Pamlico Sound, making it the longest river within North Carolina. Its watershed covers over 6,000 square miles in 18 counties, and its mouth is six miles across, making it the widest river in America.

Submitted by: Brian Wescott, Neuse River Day Program Coordinator, Neuse Riverkeepers, 252-637-7972