Fort Drum community spends day in Alexandria Bay for Riverfest 2013
June 27, 2013
FORT DRUM, N.Y. -- A beautiful sunny day greeted more than 4,500 Soldiers and Family Members who traveled Thursday to Alexandria Bay to participate in Riverfest activities.
Riverfest is sponsored by Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation and the Northern New York - Fort Drum Chapter of the Association of the United States Army. For more than 20 years, this event has provided an opportunity for Soldiers and their Families to enjoy a wealth of activities in the picturesque Thousand Islands Region.
"It's a great day where Soldiers and their Families get to come down and explore the Thousand Islands, go on a boat tour and tour (Boldt) Castle, and we have a cookout for them up in the village pavilion," said AUSA President Tina Wildhaber. "They get to see all aspects of Alex Bay and get out and experience the community."
In addition to getting to experience downtown Alexandria Bay and its breath-taking views of the St. Lawrence River, participants could enjoy a barbecue lunch and an hourlong riverboat ride with a stop at historic Boldt Castle, located on Heart Island.
FWMR Child, Youth and School Services staff members also were on hand to provide activities -- from arts and crafts to bounce houses and a rock-climbing wall -- for children of all ages.
Fort Drum's Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers provided transportation and assisted with setting up and tearing down for the event. BOSS adviser Michelle Roden said that the event is one that her staff looks forward to supporting.
"BOSS loves being involved in community events, because it gives back to our Soldiers for all that they do for us," Roden said. "These events give the opportunity for Soldiers (and Families) to have fun and interact with their Families and friends. It gets (them) away from their routine and everyday life to have fun and relax. This is our way of saying thank you by being a small part of this large event."
AUSA representative Joe McLaughlin attributes the success of Riverfest to this widespread community involvement.
"It's good clean fun for Soldiers and Families," he said. "It's a partnership between the community up here in Alexandria Bay and Fort Drum FWMR and AUSA. So, all those partnerships coming together on a beautiful day like today is a success."
McLaughlin said that Soldiers and Family Members often do not realize just how many opportunities for recreation and fun are available to them within the local community. Wildhaber agreed that the event is one way of providing Soldiers and Families with an opportunity to get out and experience the beauty and culture of the North Country.
"They have a great day getting out and seeing the beautiful Thousand Islands, but also Soldiers may have not realized that there was all of this to do and see so close to post," Wildhaber said. "So it gives them an opportunity to explore that and have a great day at the same time."
Capt. Jason Gadd and his wife Courtney brought their infant son Evan out to enjoy the event.
"We've been here (at Fort Drum) for a little while, but this is the first real event we've been to," said Courtney Gadd. "I like family-oriented events. We hadn't explored much up until this point, so it's nice to get out and see the area."
Donna Orvis, FMWR chief of marketing, said she hopes that the Riverfest event will continue to encourage Soldiers and Family Members to take advantage of all that Fort Drum and the local community have to offer.
"We (FMWR) hope that the Soldiers and Families who were able enjoy this day (and will) return to the river communities to enjoy their overall experience at Fort Drum," she said.