Location: Cincinnati, Ohio, United States

Sunday, January 08, 2012

TR: WEBN Fireworks "Riverfest" - Sept 4, 2011

Trip Report: Riverfest
Cincinnati, OH
September 4, 2011

As you may note from my prior blog entry, Eric dropped me off at home early on this date en route to his home in Georgia. Having lost all common sense, I decided to do something I had managed to avoid for about 20 years, the Riverfest WEBN Fireworks. I'd always avoided them due to the huge crowd and traffic, but I thought, since I am taking a bus, what do I care of the traffic nonsense? It is true also, that this year Cincinnati had the wettest year on record, and it went and made sure the record was truly remarkable. All signs pointed towards staying home, but what fun is that?

So around 2pm or so, I caught a bus from Oakley to downtown. My first clue should have been when busses were dropping lots of people off downtown, and not many were catching bus out of town. No problem, I made my way on foot along my usual route (Government Square to Main, Main to 2nd, then walk around the outside of Great American Ball Park and US Bank Arena). At this point, I decided to go over to the Hoffbrauhaus for a brat and a bier. You see, Newport, Kentucky has the first Hoffbrauhaus outside of Germany, and most of the year they brew all the HB Biers o site under the watchful eye of a Bier Master sent from Munich. But, we are entering the Oktoberfest season, and for this, they actually import HB Oktoberfest from Munich.

This slight change in plan is no hassle really, I'll just cross the Central Bridge, cut through Newport on the Levee, then cross 3rd Street and walk a block or so to Hoffbrau. I got to the restaurant and sat at the bar as I drank a couple Mas of Hoffbrau Oktoberfest while having some German food (Bratwurst, Spaetzle, Sauerkraut, and a Cream Puff) The bier, very good, thanks for asking.

I calculated me departure from the restaurant to get me back over the river in time. You see, the bridges in the area all close about an hour or so before fireworks, and don't reopen until the area has been cleared. So, for somebody taking a bus, it is vital to end up on the correct side of the river.

I headed for the Purple People Bridge, but it had already been closed, so I ducked back through Newport on the Levee to find a chain link fence blocking my way, a fence that was not there just an hour or two ago. "No Access to Riverfest" Great, guys, thanks for taking part in the festival. It would appear the Levee was using their area as a VIP area. So, it was back out onto third street to walk the long way to the Central Bridge. So I got to the bridge, and was very happy to be accross the Central Bridge before it closed. I was then going to take the stairs down from the US Bank Arena plaza to the festival area, but those stairs were blocked off. Seems I have to walk to the end of the bridge and then around the outside of the arena at ground level to get to an official entrance.

This all seemed silly but I stopped at a couple booths, one to get the event t-shirt, and the other was to get a soft drink (Riverfest is a dry event) Then the waiting game starts, I have about 2 and a half to three hours to wait. By now most of the good spots have been claimed. Duct taping a tarp of blanket to the ground is enough to stake a claim. One thing about going to the festival alone, is you can slide into small spaces between tarps/blankets that groups could not. It is still 3 hours of sheer boredom. Why am I doing this again?

People start to get excited around 8p when the fireworks barge arrives, and from then about every 15 minutes they fire off a "get you ready" charge. Then around 8:30 (30-40 minutes before fireworks) the rains came in. And did they ever come, I never knew just how many people could jam tightly together underneath the Central Bridge if they really had to.

The rain subsided just before fireworks, and I made my way out and found a space not too much worse than the one I left. The downside of this was that there were not near as many boomboxes this year, so it was hard to hear the soundtrack (not that it mattered, as word has it they played last years audio track for the first half of the show) But, worse, the heavy rain generated a huge fog curtain when the fireworks started. Those of us on the Cincinnati side were lucky in that we got to see a fireworks show, maybe not as grand as we remember, but still a nice show, and Rozzi always saves some surprises to unveil at this event. Those people in Newport with their VIP seating saw, reportedly, next to nothing with the huge fog blanketing their side. So, long hours of boredom waiting, followed by a show that wasn't as great as I remember. Maybe it can be 10 more years before I try this again.

When the fireworks were over, I made my back into town, and I do have to give Metro some credit for having a crew of dispatchers summoning busses on demand to try to get the people out of town as quickly as possible. Mother Nature gave me a final blow by having the heavy rains pick back up as I was walking from bus stop to home.


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