An epic celebration befitting a project of the Susquehanna River Walk's magnitude is planned for Saturday.
"For people who have not seen the river walk before, it's a great opportunity to experience it for the first time," county transportation planner Mark Murawski said. "For regular users, it's a great opportunity to celebrate with the city and county completion of it and learn about the environment, history and the arts."
The event will be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday in the parking lot of Citizens and Northern Bank and on the river walk.
SUN-GAZETTE FILE PHOTO
A 500-pound bronzed clay sculpture of a woodhick, an 1800s-era lumber camp worker, stands along the Susquehanna River Walk.
A "fun run" will be held at 9 a.m. on the three-mile loop between the Market and Maynard street bridges, and a ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held at 11 a.m. near the woodhick sculpture on the north side of the river near the Market Street Bridge.
According to Murawski, the fun run is a non-competitive event in which participants may walk or run. Those wishing to participate in the event should gather near the woodhick prior to the starting time, he said.
"In addition to being able to enjoy your surroundings, people associated with (the river walk) will be available to answer questions about it and where we're heading in the future," Murawski said. "You can get exercise and you can learn something."
Sculpture park to line banks of Susquehanna
By DAVID THOMPSON
Area artist Pam Madai Barner's bronze woodhick sculpture is the first public art piece installed along the Susquehanna River Walk - but it won't be the last.
A local arts organization PublicARTWORKS, a subcommittee of the Lycoming County Celebrates the Arts Alliance, plans to install more art consistent with the river and the area's lumber heritage, according to county transportation planner Mark Murawski.
The initiative will result in a River Walk Sculpture Park, which will compliment the river walk's recreation and history themes, he said.
"What we're trying to do is build upon the theme we started with Pam Barner's woodhick sculpture and add additional opportunities for public art along the river walk that is consistent with the Lumber heritage theme," Murawski said.
Last fall, the committee put a call out to artists to gather ideas about what additional art pieces can be put on the river walk, he said.
"The response was very enthusiastic," he said. "There were responses not only from across the state but outside the state."
The focus will be on choosing works by regional artists, said alliance member Judy Olinsky.
"The goal is to produce one piece per year for the river walk for the next 10 years," said committee co-chairman Laura Flynn.
The committee plans to meet with other groups to make recommendations to the county commissioners about the best art pieces to install, Murawski said.
Funding is a critical component of the initiative, he said.
"We're looking for people who would be interested in providing a donation to the art piece," he said.
According to Olinsky, the committee has developed a Legacy Gift Program that will enable financial donors "to share some of their most important values."
"The river walk has already become an integral part of our life. Each day, people walk, run, ride or simply sit by the river," she said. "The piece of land we live on and love is shaped and connected by this river and its streams. Our life as a river town is an important part of our history and our beautiful river walk and sculpture park will symbolize how we have used our past to create a good life and a better future."
"Most successful towns have a strong public art component and Williamsport certainly has the talent to showcase," Murawski said.
There is no fee or registration needed to participate in the run, he said.
Many of the activities will center in the bank parking lot, which will be home to displays by area non-profit organizations, including the Williamsport Downtown Business Association, Girl Scouts and Public Art Academy, local historical societies, state agencies and food vendors, according to county community development planner Rachelle Ricotta.
The Muncy Historical Society will have a 40-foot, 1860s-era packet boat on display and the Montgomery Historical Society will have a display on "The Last Raft."
The Thomas T. Taber Museum and Lycoming County Genealogical Society also will have displays, Ricotta said.
Bonnie Kyofski will tell stories related to the river on the South Williamsport side near the dam at noon, 1 and 2 p.m. There will be a trail cleanup at 1 p.m. and a group dog walk, sponsored by the Nittany Greyhounds, at 2 p.m.
Otto's Books will sell books on local history, and local authors will be on hand to sign their books.
The Lycoming Audubon Society will present a bald eagle and falconer demonstration, Bonner Sport and RV will present giant bicycle demonstrations and have loaner bicycles available, and the YMCA's Tour de Bill will have information about the tour and provide tips on bicycle safety.
The Lumber Heritage Region will hold provide information about the area's lumber history, Safe Kids Lycoming will provide helmet sizing for kids and Phoenix Physical Therapy will conduct a walking program and sneaker analysis.
Local artist Pam Madai Barner, who donated her time to make the woodhick sculpture, and other artists will have exhibits.
Although most of the displays will be in the bank parking lot, area artists are encouraged to set up their easels on the river walk, Murawski said.
"We did not want to put a lot of things on the river walk," he said. "We wanted to have a free flow of pedestrian traffic during the day."
The First Presbyterian Church will provide activities for kids, the Susquehanna Greenway Partnership will provide information about trails, Mothers & More, the Main Street Regional Program, county Department of Public Safety and city Bureau of Fire will be on hand at the event.
The river walk was a centerpiece of city revitalization planning efforts, Murawski said. The trail includes a three-mile paved loop on top of the levee on both sides of the river between the Market Street and Maynard Street bridges.
An extension on the north side of the river along Commerce Park Drive connects the river walk to trails in Loyalsock Township and the Borough of Montoursville. Plans also are in the works to build a connection along the river to Jersey Shore.
The $2.3 million project, paid for though state departments of transportation and conservation and natural resources grants and a small amount of local funding, also includes a historical component call the "Timber Trail."
The trail is a series of interpretive signs located along the river walk that provide information about the area's lumber history. The signs were paid for with a Lumber Heritage Region grant.
The river walk is an example of how community revitalization can be achieved through strong partnerships, Murawski said.
"I think the river walk is an anchor to the community revitalization program," Murawski said. "The reason we started the project was because people wanted to reconnect with the river, and we've done that."
"It shows that when we all work together we can achieve great things in this community," he said.