Riverfest makes a splashy return in 2021 to Wilkes-Barre

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WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — An annual summer staple in Luzerne County returned with a splash.

It happened after the pandemic kept the action in the Susquehanna River and along its banks calm last year.

“This is what we have been waiting for, for the last year and a half or so,” Riverfront Parks Committee executive director John Maday said.

Sunny skies, a cool breeze and people on the river, a perfect combination for the return of Riverfest in Wilkes-Barre. The annual festival drew crowds to Nesbitt Park to celebrate the great outdoors along the banks of the Susquehanna River.

“He is very curious, and he probably will spend hours here,” Carol Lavery of Shickshinny said of her grandson, Chase.

For kids like Chase, it’s an interactive science lesson free of charge.

“This particular event has so many opportunities for him to learn about different parts of nature particularly, he loves butterflies, he loves to learn about bugs,” Lavery said.

Education is a guiding principle of the non-profit Riverfront Parks Committee, which has hosted the event for the last 25 years.

“We look at the parks along the river in the city of Wilkes-Barre as our classroom. So, we run an event like this, you bring people into your classroom, and then we have displays set up about environmental education so that you draw them into your classroom, and then you teach,” Maday said.

An educational experience made fun. Live music, food trucks, vendors and games were an added bonus. And for the adventurous participants, two canoe kayaking excursions on the river. All in the hopes of inspiring environmental awareness among the next generation.

“This is our planet, it’s our home, it’s the only one we have. Think of it as, we’re only here for a while, we’re basically renting time here, and we have to leave it to the next person a better place than what we left,” Maday said.

The festivities were scaled back during this year’s celebration to accommodate social distancing. But organizers hope Riverfest fully comes back next year.

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