SOUTH ORANGE, NJ - River Day on Sunday, May 7, opened with a welcoming talk by Hadrien Coumans, co-Founder and co-Director of the Lenape Center. He is an adopted member of the White Turkey/Fugate Family of the Delaware Tribe of Indians, which is the largest tribe of Lenape Indians and currently resides in Oklahoma.
Hadrien told the audience that cleaning the river is very important because without water there can be no life. He described it as the “blood of mother earth and in our bodies." He asked all to "respect the gift of life that water gives throughout countless generations, and thanked all for respecting water and for their efforts to clean the Rahway River.
River Day, which took place around the Duck Pond and newly renovated skate house off of N. Ridgewood Road, in addition to river clean-up is also a chance to celebrate environmental education and awareness. The family-friendly event also featured food, live music, a participatory environmental art piece involving natural and found objects from the river, and environmental and watershed exhibits.
Walter Clarke, South Orange Board of Trustees member and the liaison to the Environmental Commission, organized the event and thanked everyone who participated.
Clarke said, “this is one of my favorite days of the year. I enjoy seeing all the volunteers. River Day helps educate people about a better use of the river. The actual versus the book learning about it is very different."
Jeremy Beck, one of the volunteers cleaning the river said he has participated for the past 3 or 4 years with a his sons and their friends.
Andrew Kit, a South Orange resident who was at River Day for the third time said that he likes cleaning the river to get it as clean as it can be.
Kate Murphy, who works at SOPAC, came to River Day from Bergen County with her son Gabriel, as did Mark Packer, SOPAC's Executive Director, to support the South Orange community.
"I’m here to payback the community," said Packer.