Tuesday, October 9, 2001

Great Pumpkin Party to Launch Riverkeeper Initiative October 20

Chestertown, MD, October 9, 2001 — The Washington College Center for the Environment and Society and the Chester River Association invite all to join in A CELEBRATION OF THE CHESTER: THE GREAT PUMPKIN PARTY on Saturday, October 20, 2001, at the Washington College Custom House garden and High Street landing, Chestertown, beginning at 1:30 p.m. The public is invited to enjoy educational events, fun and games for all ages, plus food and refreshments and to learn about the Chester Riverkeeper Initiative.
The Great Pumpkin Party will bring the communities along the Chester River together in recognition of the many ways in which the Chester enriches our lives and to introduce the Chester River Association's Riverkeeper Initiative as way to preserve the quality, environmental health and unique character of the river.
In tandem with the Chestertown Wildlife Exhibition and Sale, the Great Pumpkin Party will begin with informal gatherings at many of the public landings along the Chester and its 43 tributaries. Up and down the Chester, pumpkins, fall produce and fall flowers donated by local farmers and gardeners will be delivered to the docks and loaded onto boats to be brought to Chestertown. Look for posters and signs telling where and when to gather to see the beginning of the pumpkin boat parade.
The boats are scheduled to converge at Chestertown's High Street landing at 1:30 p.m. to unload their harvest bounty. The Town Dock and the last riverfront block of High Street will be closed to traffic from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. to accommodate the public for the Great Pumpkin Party.
As part of the Great Pumpkin Party, prizes will be awarded for the gourd with the largest girth and the heaviest homegrown pumpkin. Winners of the Kent and Queen Anne's County Arts Councils' "Bounty of the Chester" contest will be announced. Contest entries include poems, paintings, essays and photographs that illustrate how the Chester River enriches our lives. In addition, Great Pumpkin Party door-prize entry forms will be available throughout Kent and Queen Anne's counties and all who attend may enter their names for the prize of a 16-foot Old Town Loon Kayak.
Since its founding in 1986, the Chester River Association has served as an advocate for the Chester River and the resources it provides. Yet, despite the best efforts to address an array of complex river issues, the health of the Chester has continued to decline and the river is currently on the State of Maryland's list of impaired waterways.
As explained by Andrew McCown, president of the Chester River Association: "It was becoming clear that our volunteer board could not adequately respond to the Chester's growing needs. We had to commit to a more aggressive program in defense of the Chester and its water quality. That is the origin of our Riverkeeper Initiative."
As part of this new program, the Chester River Association petitioned for admittance and was unanimously accepted as a new member of the International Waterkeeper Alliance. The Waterkeeper Alliance directed by Robert Kennedy, Jr., will guide and support the Chester River Association in its Riverkeeper Initiative to hire a full-time professional riverkeeper by Fall 2002. To be employed by the Chester River Association, the Chester Riverkeeper will be based in Washington College's Custom House, headquartered with the College's Center for the Study of the Environment and Society, the C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience, and Center for the Study of Black Culture.
The Waterkeeper Alliance also promises an important partnership for the Chester by assigning the Hudson Riverkeeper, Alex Matthiessen, as mentor to the new Chester Riverkeeper. Matthiesen will be a guest at the Great Pumpkin Party to help explain the responsibilities of a riverkeeper and the importance of the Riverkeeper Initiative.
Later the same night, the Chester River Association will present "Chesapeake Scenes," words and music of the Bay in concert, at 8 p.m. in the Prince Theater, High Street, Chestertown. Join Washington College alumni Andrew McCown '77, Sue Matthews ' 75, Bill Matthews '71 and the gang in a celebration of the Chesapeake and Chester. Tickets are $25. For more information and reservations call the Kerns Collection at 410-778-4044.
For more information about the Great Pumpkin Party, call Andrew Stein at the Washington College Center for the Environment and Society, 410-810-7151.

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