CLEVELAND, Ohio – Cuyahoga River Paddle Race. The events and tours of Cleveland History Days highlight the city’s heritage, but also celebrate its present and future.
Few may do it more dramatically than Blazing Paddles, Saturday morning’s standup paddleboard race on the Cuyahoga River.
Paddleboarding participants launched from Rivergate Park to race on a twisting 5.7 mile course whose turnaround point was the location of the Cuyahoga River fire of November 1952. A photo of that fire became the stand-in illustration — even in Time magazine — for the fire of June 1969.
The 1969 fire was much smaller and was not photographed — it wasn’t even unique to Cleveland — but it marked an ecological low point that spurred efforts to clean up waterways, playing a significant role in passage of the Clean Water Act and establishment of the Environmental Protection Agency.
Edged with new paved paths and green spaces, the river has become a recreational home to rowers and kayakers — and paddleboarders, blazing with speed and not flames.
Cleveland History Days, through July 1, was conceived partly to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Take a Hike program, which features 90-minute weekly tours of key places and people in Cleveland history.
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