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Editorial: River is a treasure for region

As our cover story today shows, on Saturday, the Ohio River was filled with hundreds of boats from Huntington to Ironton and beyond for a political rally.

Regardless of one’s choice of candidate in the election, the event showed the value the river for the Tri-State, with the procession stretching across the region.

When we finally come out the other side of the pandemic, there will likely be a desire for gatherings and celebrations and, when leaders in cities and townships along the river begin planning for the return of festivals and events, maybe it is time to think big.

A few decades ago, Charleston, West Virginia hosted one of the largest draws in the eastern United States with its annual Sternwheel Regatta festival, which brought river traffic and major entertainment to the cities.

It is still a source of nostalgia for many. Seeing the river full of boats over the weekend brought back memories of that festival, and others like it, whichused to be commonplace in the region.

Before the pandemic hit, Ironton hosted the Ohio River Revival, while Ashland’s Summer Motion has made use of the riverfront (which recently has seen the addition of three magnificent statues), and other smaller events have taken place throughout the Tri-State.

One could even envision something, such as a multi-city festival, utilizing the riverfronts of not just the larger locales like Huntington, Ashland and Ironton, but also places like South Point, Burlington and others. Not only could it attract private watercraft, but visiting riverboats could even offer transportation between sites.

Such an event, whether in one city or many, could be a major draw for tourism.

The waterfront is a great resource for the Tri-State and we hope civic leaders and organizations give some major thought to utilizing it to its full potential, post-COVID-19.