On Saturday, August 4, Leinenkugel’s Brewery from Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin will be hosting the Second Annual Friendly Float down the Chicago River. An armada of canoes will paddle from the Chicago River put in at Rockwell down to Dick’s Last Resort at 315 N. Dearborn.
To enter, email firstname.lastname@example.org with the names, birthdays, email addresses and phone numbers of yourself and your paddle partner. Register early — spots fill up quickly!
The author is a charter member of the Friendly Float brigade, as I paddled the river with Christine from Uncle Dan’s last year. It was a great event. It was a thrill paddling with Jake and John and having a Leinie with the Leinies afterward.
The purpose of the float is to raise awareness to the condition of the Chicago River. Bring up the Chicago River to any Chicagoan and they will most likely make a joke about the water quality and then say “it is much better than it used to be.”
While it is certainly true, there seems to be an acceptance by many that it is OK for the Chicago River to smell and be unclean since it has improved. The head of the Chicago Water Reclamation Board even went so far to say that the cleaning up of the river is a waste of time.
Related: Cleaning the Chicago River: is it a waste of time?
When this pronouncement was made, the media leaped on it and the fact that untreated raw sewage is allowed to flow into the river shocked many. The EPA ordered the city to clean it up or said they would do it themselves. This coming on the heels of the American Rivers Conservation Group adding the Chicago waterway to its list of most endangered rivers for the first time - and coming in at number 4.
The Friendly Float last year helped keep the condition of the river in the news. Perhaps it even had an effect on downstate legislators as Pat Quinn in April set aside 10 million dollars to disinfect the Chicago River. Quinn even remarked that one day the river might be clean enough to swim in.
Despite the progress made, there is still work to be done. This is why it is great that Leinenkugel’s is coming back for a second year to do another Friendly Float. Sometimes when things look better people get complacent and do not do what they say they are going to do. This is why the plight of the Chicago River needs to stay in the consciousness of people of Chicago. We need to stop accepting the fact that the river is cleaner than it used to be and expect more from our city and state to clean it and clean it now.
Come join me on August 4th while we paddle down the beautiful Chicago River and bring attention that more work needs to be done.
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