Gary festival promotes clean water, outdoor activities
By Lisa DeNeal Post-Tribune correspondent June 30, 2012 4:12PM
Marian Comer of Gary adds lily pads and cotton tails to a mesostic poem art project during the Clean Water Festival at Marquette Park in the Miller section of Gary, Ind. Saturday June 30, 2012. | Stephanie Dowell~Sun-Times Media
Updated: August 2, 2012 10:27AM
GARY — Three-year-old Kelis Leah Scott enjoyed the water Saturday, paddling with relatives along Marquette Lagoon during the eighth annual Gary Clean Water Celebration, where she collected a little souvenir.
“Did you get a flower?” her mom, Kewauna Jones of Gary, asked while removing Kelis’ life jacket.
Kelis waved a large plastic lily pad with a decorated flower on top that was floating in the lagoon and nodded.
The paddling, kayaking and canoe lessons were free and provided by Chicago River Canoe and Kayak.
“This was our first time doing this. It is so much fun and, as you can see, Kelis enjoyed herself,” said Jones who also kayaked.
The outdoor celebration was the conclusion to a two-day event that kicked off Thursday with a Water Quality reception and award dinner at Marquette Park Pavilion. The festivities were part of June being Lake Michigan Coastal Awareness Month and a collaboration between the Gary Storm Water Management District and the City of Gary Department of Green Urbanism.
“Conservation Mike” Echterling of Region Bass Buzz on WJOB-1230 AM gave fishing education to children and adults.
“I teach them how to bait, cast, reel in and release fish,” Echterling said.
The water rescue team and beach patrol from the Gary Fire and Police Departments also demonstrated water safety with lifeguards from the parks department.
Outreach coordinator for the celebration, Brenda Scott-Henry, also introduced the “Gary Green Totes” reusable recycled tote bags for daily use. “We gave these out during registration as an alternative to plastic bags,” she said.