Our upcoming Bronx River Festival marks the tenth anniversary year of the Bronx River Alliance, and holds the memory of some of the earliest events celebrating the Bronx River, such as the 1998 Bronx River Fest and the first Golden Ball Festival in 1999.
On the morning of April 24, 1999, a three-foot diameter ball covered in gold leaf was ceremoniously lowered into the river at Bronxville Lake in Tuckahoe. Designed by artists Mags Harris and Lajos Héder, the gilded orb was “a symbol of the sun, energy and spirit of the Bronx River.”
Accompanied by dancers from the Hunts Point-based Arthur Aviles Typical Theatre, and with classical flutist Connie Grossman playing from the bow of the lead canoe, the Golden Ball was slowly floated down the Bronx River, linking the diverse river communities along the way. At various places along the ten-mile procession community groups staged presentations, carried out cleanup projects, planted trees, and hailed the Golden Ball as it passed by.
Closing ceremonies were held seven hours later at the site of what was to become Hunts Point Riverside Park, then the site of community reclamation efforts organized by Majora Carter. As the Golden Ball at last came ashore, Partnership for Parks proudly announced the establishment of a new Waterways and Trailways field office in the Bronx to support citizen-based waterway and greenway initiatives along the Bronx River and throughout New York City.
Stephen Paul DeVillo