Photos and story by Rick Hiduk
Rebecca Lesko, Executive Director of the Endless Mountains Nature Center, proved popular with patrons of River Day in Tunkhannock on July 19, with friends like a rescued Eastern Screech Owl with which guests could have their photo taken in return for a donation to the Center.
As River Day in Tunkhannock expands and stakes its legitimacy alongside other popular annual events in the Wyoming County seat, a growing number of people are flocking to the bank of the Susquehanna on the same Saturday each July to enjoy a unique combination of nature, arts, and wellness.
Smiles abounded on July 19 when as many as a thousand individuals and families walked through Riverside Park, swaying to homegrown music, taking in health and fitness demonstrations, and learning about the delicate balance of nature of the county’s wetlands. River Day marked its tenth year on Saturday, and the waterfront teamed with recreationists, artists, and people simply out to enjoy the stellar weather and friendly crowd.
Nature walks, karate demonstrations and a river float that attracted approximately 15 kayakers began midmorning and continued into the early afternoon, as families began to arrive in droves to hear live performances by Sadie Green Sales Jug Band, Coal Town Rounders, and the Hickory Project.
A large canvas was erected on the river bank on which children in attendance were encouraged to add to a mural influenced by the abundant nature surrounding them. Local environmental groups and educators provided discussions on ecology and guided mini explorations of the grounds throughout the day.
Vendors sold raspberries and jam, local honey products and items made from alpaca wool. Food items included pulled pork sandwiches, chicken or and vegetarian empañadas, ice cream, fresh squeezed lemonade, jambalaya and hot dogs.
Unknowing travelers attempting to enter or exit Tunkhannock as River Day came to an end at 7 pm must have known that they had missed something big when traffic briefly ground to a halt at the intersection of River Road and Route 29 as people exited Riverside Park en masse.
River Day is planned by the Wyoming County Cultural Center at the Dietrich Theater and the River Day Committee and sponsored by the Overlook Estate Foundation.
Photos by Rick Hiduk
Brendon Yatsko (above, right) of Monkey Hollow was a quick study of water habitat as related by retired Tunkhannock teacher Bob Daniels. Brendon was already fascinated by that which grows in the mud and told Daniels that he is trying to find a hellbender salamander.
River Day patrons were able to enjoy a variety of demonstrations, such as this one by younger students of High Energy Fitness and Karate Center, from the shaded comfort of a large tent.
The Dietrich sisters, (from left) Lavona Daniels, Barb Zeck, and Laura Kirk found a shady respite to enjoy their lunch in Riverside Park on Saturday.
River Day provided the appropriate venue for organizations like the National Wildlife Federation, represented by Ed Perry, to reach out to those who share environmental concerns. Perry was asking patrons to sign postcards protesting the development of vast acres of woodlands in western Pennsylvania for natural gas development.
State Rep. Karen Boback (left) and her Wyoming County office coordinator Carol Sweeney had some fun with Casper, a seven-year-old Alpaca from the Lazy Daisy Alpaca Farm. In captivity, the generally gentile Alpacas live to be 20 years old. Their soft wool has become prized for the manufacture of clothing.
Youngsters look for water critters such as helgramites and damsel fly larvae with help from volunteer educator Bob Daniels.
Among other fascinating facts, Rebecca Lesko, Executive Director of the Endless Mountains Nature Center, explained that the Eastern Screech Owl is full grown at three months.
For many regular visitors to Riverside Park on July 19, like members of the Burgess and Cunningham families from Falls, River Day provided some unexpected excitement. The children and their parents often fish the Susquehanna River at night.
More than a dozen kayakers took part in floats from Mehoopany and Vosburg Neck coordinated by two local river outfitters.
The shoreline of the Susquehanna River at Tunkhannock was bustling with activity as River Day concurrently unfolded on the river bank above.