Blue skies, a greenway and RiverFest

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A hot and sunny spring afternoon. A cooling breeze from the Hudson River. And hundreds of people flocking to the College of Mount Saint Vincent for Riverdale RiverFest.

Attendees took in the day to relax near the water, take a sailboat ride, and enjoy and learn more about the community.

“We just love this event,” said Emily Meisner, a Riverdalian who attended RiverFest with her husband Craig, two children and a co-worker. “We love supporting local Riverdale events and also things that have to do with the river.”

Meisner’s family enjoyed the day sitting on a grassy lawn after taking a ride on one of three boats traversing the Hudson earlier in the day.

“I saw a kitchen, and a guy walking in the kitchen, and beds,” Meisner’s 5-year-old daughter Ella said, describing the lower deck and crew living quarters of the boat. Ella’s 7-year-old brother Zachary stood at the wheel to help steer.

Kelly Buwalda traveled to RiverFest from Brooklyn, finding the annual event a source of inspiration for her work. She and Meisner teach at the National Dance Institute. Every year the company explores a different theme.

“This was a great way to be in an interactive environment with the river and start to be inspired about what I am going to teach next year,” Buwalda said.

Festival-goers also had the chance learn about nonprofits like Rocking the Boat, an organization that works primarily with high school students to build wooden boats and learn how to row and sail. The boats are used to monitor environmental water quality, said Jasmine Benitez, the nonprofit’s assistant director of public programs.

Attendees also had a chance to enjoy a musical performance by the Riverdale-based band Spuyten Duyvil. The group mixes gospel, blues and folk music to create their own unique sound.

“Opportunities to bring people together and around some common experience, like listening to live music, I think are really important to us,” Mark Miller, the group’s leader recently said. “That’s why these kinds of shows are the kind of shows that we like to do.” 

The Kingsbridge Riverdale Van Cortlandt Development Corp. and Friends of the Hudson River Greenway sponsored the event. The goal is to support the Bronx link of the Hudson River Greenway.

“I just think the Riverdale RiverFest is a beautiful celebration and really important right now to have these fun — but actually slightly political events — to save our environment and to spread awareness of the organizations,” Buwalda said.

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