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Celebrate River Day at Van Cortlandt Manor Sunday

August 3, 2006

van-cortlandt-manor-river-net-making.jpgVan Cortlandt Manor visitors can tour the Croton River snug inside a kayak on Sunday, Aug. 13, 2006, as part of River Day, an event devoted to the history and ecology of the area’s watershed. Hudson River Recreation will be performing kayak demonstrations during this celebration of the environment, allowing experienced kayakers to test drive new models while beginning kayakers can get their feet wet learning the sport.

“This event attracts families who are interested in the history of our rivers and man’s relationship with these rivers over time,” said Althea Corey, Van Cortlandt Manor site director. River Day is a festival-style event with an emphasis on hands-on activities that teach children and adults about the area’s fragile watershed, and how 18th-century Hudson Valley residents performed such marine-related tasks as fishing and boat building. Van Cortlandt Manor history interpreters will demonstrate 18th-century tasks such as fishnet tying, cooking, milling, coopering, and blacksmithing. Visitors will be encouraged to lend a hand.

Both the Hudson River and the Croton River have been a source of commerce, travel, food, and recreation for centuries. Through games, workshops, and demonstrations, we’ll delve into the past and present uses, thoughts, and concerns about these rivers,” said Ms. Corey.

Other activities include a birds of prey demonstration and bird walks, “seining” (a type of fishing using a long, rectangular net), beachcombing, fishing using 18th-century-style poles, and games that teach children about water and river ecology.

Rocking the Boat, a non-profit youth development organization in The Bronx, will be demonstrating the wooden boats they create by hand.

A number of regional educational organizations and environmental advocacy groups are bringing hands-on educational activities to River Day, including Teatown Reservation, the Hudson River Museum, the Hudson River Estuary Program, Beczak Environmental Education Center, Croton Point Nature Center, Hudson River Water Trail Association, and author Chris Tompkins.

Charlie Roberto from Teatown Lake Reservation will be bringing birds of prey and taking people on bird walks along the shore of the Hudson, talking about marsh birds and historic plants, and why the area was such an ideal habitat for early American settlers.

MALFA, local expert archeologists, will bring exhibits of artifacts from digs in the lower Hudson region.

Hudson River Estuary Program will lead a beachcombing activity. Beczak Environmental Center will bring “beach in a box,” which they use to demonstrate things they’ve found along the shores of the Hudson. The Hudson River Museum will be doing a riverbed activity with clay.

Van Cortlandt interpreters will offer activities from the Water Education for Teachers (“WET”) project — lively interactive games teach children about water conservation.

Music will also be a big part of the day. Local musician Jim Keyes will be performing with his band Sportin’ Jenny. Other performers include fiddler Felix Farrar, storyteller Jonathan Kruk, and folk singers Fred Gillen Jr. and Iris Cohen.

Picnic food from Geordanes in Irvington will be available.

The Croton River, which empties into the Hudson River about a half-mile past the Manor House on the Van Cortlandt estate, was used in the 18th century as a dynamic water source, powering gristmills and sawmills. The Van Cortlandt family kept its boats moored just beyond their icehouse, enabling the transportation of people and goods down the Hudson River. Today, the Hudson River still carries great cargo ships to and from New York City and other stops along the way, but both rivers are also abundantly used for fishing and boating throughout the spring, summer and fall.

Admission to River Day at Van Cortlandt Manor is $10 for adults; $9 for seniors; $6 for children 5-17; and free for children under 5 and HHV members. Van Cortlandt Manor, a Historic Hudson Valley site, is at 525 South Riverside Avenue (off Route 9) in Croton-on-Hudson. the Croton Point Avenue exit from Route 9 and follow the signs. For information: 914-271-8981,

Historic Hudson Valley is a network of six historic sites in Sleepy Hollow Country and the Great Estates region; Washington Irving’s Sunnyside; Kykuit, the Rockefeller estate, a historic site of the National Trust; Philipsburg Manor; the Union Church of Pocantico Hills; Van Cortlandt Manor; and Montgomery Place Historic Estate.


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