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City of Rochester

River Romance

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Celebrating Our  Past and Future on the Genesee River. October 3-5, 2014

River Romance Weekend features a full schedule of activities and events celebrating the Genesee River’s deep history and natural wonders. The weekend includes guided tours, river cruises, live entertainment and much more.

RiverromancelogoThe Genesee River has always been the reason people chose to make a life in Rochester. Native Americans depended on the river for food and transportation. Later, the first European settlers realized the potential of the river’s falls and rapids to power early grist mills and other industry. When the Erie Canal opened in the 1820’s, Rochester became the first American boom town, quickly growing from a sleepy frontier outpost to a rapidly expanding industrial city.

Luckily for future generations, there were Rochester residents who had a deep interest in outdoor leisure activities and a forward thinking approach toward landscape design. These residents lobbied hard for city fathers to establish a park system in Rochester. In 1887, 19.63 Approximately 20 acres were purchased for the establishment of an arboretum east of the City’s Highland Reservoir which would become the present day Highland Park, the “jewel “of the City Park system. The following year a Board of Park Commissioners was established. The Commissioners visited our neighbor in Buffalo to study the City’s 20 year old system which was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted. The Commissioners decided to hire Mr. Olmsted’s firm for three years for the sum of $5000 to help Rochester plan its budding park system.

It was Olmsted’s talents that resulted in national and international fame for Highland Park. The park’s success convinced city fathers to acquire additional riverfront property which would be developed as Seneca, Maplewood and Genesee Valley Parks. These majestic parks remain core of the city’s park system.

Today, visitors can still bear witness to Olmsted’s genius. His design principles stressed his belief that parks should look natural. A quote from his written direction for the landscaping at Seneca Park demonstrates this philosophy, “In planting all appearances of gardening should be avoided excepting such cultivation as is necessary to establish the plants”. To this day, the parks maintain a natural beauty as evidenced by their sweeping, organic landscapes and soaring trees.

This year’s River Romance Weekend celebrates Olmsted’s legacy and the beauty and majesty of the Genesee River and its surrounding gorge and trail system. Come out and take part in the numerous activities and discover for yourself why Olmsted so loved this area and our great river the Genesee.

Download a River Romance Guide
.

River Romance 2014 Schedule 

Friday, October 3 

8 to 8:30 a.m.: River Romance Press Event
Join city officials as they kick off the River Romance Weekend and celebrate the re-opening of the renovated Genesee Valley Park Sports Complex and Ice Rink and the expansion of the Genesee Riverway Trail. The conference will be held at the GVP Sports Complex 131 Elmwood Ave.

12’noon to 3 p.m.: Walking Tours of the Heritage Trail.
Meet on the north side of the Rundel Memorial Building at the corner of Broad Street and South Avenue for a one-mile walking tour of this new urban trail that tells the story of Rochester through its buildings and landmarks.  Tour ends at Susan B. Anthony Square Park.  Consider staying for a visit of the Susan B. Anthony House or take a free shuttle back to Rundel Memorial Building.

2 to 8 p.m.: High Falls Interpretive Center and Museum.
Whether you’re visiting Rochester for the first time or are a long-time resident of the “Flower City,” the High Falls Interpretive Center and Museum provides an inviting place to learn something new about Rochester’s history.  Located in a refurbished 19th-centruy Waterworks Building overlooking the Genesee River’s majestic falls near downtown Rochester, the museum boasts a number of hands-on, multi-media exhibits to engage children, in addition to interpretive displays, artwork, photographs, and artifacts for adult audiences. The museum and visitors center is located at 74 Browns Race.

6 a.m. to 7 p.m.: Fall Salmon Run.
Daily until November for avid anglers and spectators. Seth Green Drive and Norton Street off St. Paul Boulevard.

1 to 5 p.m.: Charlotte Genesee Lighthouse Tours.
Visit the oldest surviving lighthouse on Lake Ontario (1822).  Tour includes climbing the Tower, viewing the Keeper’s House and the War of 1812 International Peace Garden. The gift shop is also open. $3 admission. For further information call 585-621-6179 or visit www.geneseelighthouse.org.

5:30 to 7 p.m.: Buskers on the Bridge.
Corner of Platt Street and Brown’s Race. See and hear local talent at the scenic High Falls

7 to 7:30 p.m.: Renew Your Vows on the Banks of the Genesee.
Join your spouse on the Pont de Rennes Bridge for a romantic ceremony set against the dramatic High Falls as a picture-perfect backdrop. Couples, please arrive no later than 6:45 p.m. Enjoy a free reception following the event.  Also consider heading over to the Genesee Brew House for a tour and/or $2.00 beer tasting.

7 to 9 p.m.: Rochester Community Inclusive Rowing Fundraiser Event.
Come out and support the Rochester Community inclusive Rowing program that works to create inclusive opportunities in the sport of rowing in the greater Rochester by developing and delivering programs in rowing instruction and adaptive equipment to people with barriers to the sport.  Several 500 meter sprint races will be held under the lights at Genesee Waterways Center with all proceeds from the entry fees going to support rowing programs for veterans with disabilities and other individuals with barriers to rowing.  The Genesee Waterways Center is located at 149 Elmwood Avenue.   

Saturday, October 4

Events at Maplewood Rose Garden, Lake Ave. & Driving Park

9 a.m. to 3 p.m.: Guided Tours of RG&E Hydroelectric Facility.
Tour the RG&E Hydroelectric facility located along middle falls- including the dam and spill gates operation, river intake/rackhouse and upper level of gate control house. Learn about how renewable electric energy is produced along the Genesee River.  Please note that these are guided tours conducted by RG&E staff and are subject to cancellation should unplanned issues arise. Tours will start at the middle falls dam located at the SE end of Lower Falls Park.    

10 to 11 a.m.: Rose Workshop in Maplewood Rose Garden.
Learn from local rose experts as they teach the secrets of successful winter preparation. No registration is required.

11 a.m. to 3 p.m.: Maplewood Rose Garden.
Enjoy food and refreshments for sale as a fundraiser for the Northwest Rotary, rest and replenish for the day’s hikes and biking expeditions.

11 a.m. to 3 p.m.: Tours of the Lower Falls and Gorge.
Docents from the Maplewood Neighborhood Association will treat visitors to the beauty and history of the Lower Falls of the Genesee.  Tour participants will learn about the five bridges over the gorge, the rivalry between Carthage and Rochester and the river’s transformation from a place of industry to recreation, to name just a few historic highlights. Tours are about 45 minutes long with the last tour starting about 3 p.m., and are free.

12 - 3 p.m. Jazz in the Garden
Enjoy the cool jazz sounds of the Daryl Parker Trio in the rose garden.

Other events along the Genesee River

2 p.m. to 5 p.m.: Sam Patch Cruises along the Genesee.
Cruises leave  on the hour, 2, 3 4 and 5 p.m.from Corn Hill Landing.  Tickets are $5.00 per person (under 3 years old free).  Food and drink are available for purchase.  For details and reservations please visit www.sampatch.org.  

10 a.m. to 3 p.m.: Open Non-motorized Boat Launch.
Turning Point Park boat launch. Canoe/Kayak rentals, $15.  Cash or check accepted.  The park gate at the end of Boxart will be open for the day to transport your craft to the launch. Vehicules must be parked in to the Boxart lot after unloading.    

10 a.m. to 5 p.m.: High Falls Interpretive Center and Museum.
Whether you’re visiting Rochester for the first time or are a long-time resident of the “Flower City,” the High Falls Interpretive Center and Museum provides an inviting place to learn something new about Rochester’s history.  Located in a refurbished 19th-centruy Waterworks Building overlooking the Genesee River’s majestic falls near downtown Rochester, the museum boasts a number of hands-on, multi-media exhibits to engage children, in addition to interpretive displays, artwork, photographs, and artifacts for adult audiences. The museum and visitors center is located at 74 Browns Race. 

8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.: 26th Annual Head of the Genesee Regatta Day #1.
The 2014 Head of the Genesee Regatta will take place at the Genesee Waterways Center,149 Elmwood Ave. (behind the Genesee Valley Park Sports Complex).The two-day event is one of New York State’s premier rowing regattas and is expected to draw more than 350 racing entries. Viewing on the foot bridge over the Genesee River and along the east river bank is ideal for spectators.

10 to 11:30 a.m.: Early Days Walking Tour.
Meet in front of the Rundel Memorial Library Building on South Avenue for a guided tour of early sites along the Genesee River. Topics will include Ebenezer Allen's 1789 mills, Nathaniel Rochester's 100 acre plot, the Johnson and Seymour race, the Rochester race and the Erie Canal Aqueduct. The walk will end at the Erie Canal Society's first Aqueduct presentation.
10 a.m. to 2 p.m.: One-hour Walking Tours from Corn Hill Landing to the Broad Street Aqueduct and back to Corn Hill. Tours will begin at 10 a.m. and will take place every hour with the last tour leaving at 2 p.m.. Tours leave from the Waterspirit sculpture at the south end of  Corn Hill Landing, 290 Exchange Blvd., Saturday and Sunday. The walking tours are free. 

11 a.m. to 12’noon: 10th Anniversary of the Opening of the Col. Patrick O’Rorke Memorial Bridge.
Join the O’Rorke Society as they commemorate the life of Col. O’Rorke with a ceremony celebrating 10 years since the bridge opened in Charlotte. No parking is available on site. Seating is very limited, so please bring your own lawn chairs.

12 to 1:30 p.m.: Guided Walk in Turning Point Park. 
Meet tour guide Mike Parker at the Bill Davis Overlook (east end of Stutson Street) for a walk that will start promptly at noon and will end at the parking lot at the end of Boxart St. See the new eco-friendly parking lot and tour the historic North Park, White Mountain and the old Feldspar plant. Some hills and moderate grade changes; not recommended for children under 10.  This walking tour is free.

1 to 3 p.m.: Guided Bike Ride from the High Falls District and Beyond.
Meet at the Pont de Rennes Bridge and travel along the Genesee Riverway Trail and by road into surrounding neighborhoods. Ride through Downtown Rochester, Genesee Valley Park, Corn Hill and Susan B. Anthony Neighborhoods. This is a 10 mile ride on flat terrain, city roads and paved trail. Free.

12, 1 and 2 p.m. Historic Aqueduct Guided Tours.
Get a rare glimpse inside the original crossing of the Erie Canal over the Genesee River, giving birth to Rochester’s claim as America’s first boom town. Short presentation and tours will be provided by members of the Canal Society of New York State. Meet in the lobby of the Rundel Memorial Building of the Rochester Public Library, 115 South Ave.

12 to 3 p.m.: Historic Aqueduct open.
Enter off from South Ave, Behind the Dinosaur Barbeque. Get a glimpse of Rochester’s historic underbelly and hear about proposals for future development.  Volunteers from the Canal Society of New York State will be strategically placed in the Aqueduct to provide history and insights about this unique Downtown aqueduct.

12:30 to 1 p.m.: Finja Saxaphone Quartet Plays the Aqueduct.
Join us in Rochester's most unique music venue, the 1842 Erie Canal aqueduct, for a concert by the Finja Saxophone Quartet. Comprised of seniors at the Eastman School of Music, Finja has performed in master classes, recitals and won awards at national and international competitions.

11 a.m. to 1 p.m.: River to Roof Tours.
Meet in the lobby of the Rundel Memorial Building of the Rochester Public Library, 115 South Ave. Led by The Friends & Foundation of the Rochester Public Library. Tours leave every half hour, beginning at 11 a.m. The last tour begins at 1 p.m. Tours will visit the Lower Stacks, where a trap door to an old millrace will be opened for viewing and participants can learn how the river is a natural air conditioner for the building. The tours will also visit the Upper Stacks, where participants may hear about various ghostly experiences staff have had in the building. A stop on the roof will reveal a spectacular view of the Genesee River and the city. Tours are free. For more information, contact Rebecca Fuss, Director of Programming & Outreach, at 585-428-8350 or Rebecca.Fuss@libraryweb.org.

1 to 5 p.m.: Charlotte Genesee Lighthouse Tours.
Visit the oldest surviving lighthouse on Lake Ontario (1822).  Tour includes climbing the Tower, viewing the Keeper’s House and the War of 1812 International Peace Garden. The gift shop is also open. $3 admission. For further information call 585-621-6179 or visit www.geneseelighthouse.org.

2:30 to 3:30 p.m.: Civil War Sesquicentennial Series at Camp Fitz-John Porter.
This third installment of Southwest Rochester riverfront history commemorates the remarkable life and times of Horace "Hod" McGuire. McGuire was a young printer's apprentice to Frederick Douglass, trained as a recruit at Camp Porter and later served as the white commander of a US Colored Troops regiment. This family friendly event will feature costumed re-enactors, music from the period and military demonstrations. The event is free. The event will be sign language interpreted (ASL).  Parking is available at 936 Exchange Street.  Please arrive promptly at 2:30 p.m.. 

2 -4 p.m.: Walking Tour of the GardenAerial Project.
GardenAerial is a sustainably designed and built ¾ mile greenway circumnavigating High Falls in downtown Rochester. Take a tour of High Falls with the staff of Greentopia , the community sustainability advocates and nonprofit champion for High Falls.  See the plans, presentation, and current construction, for the first phase of Greentopia’s GardenAerial project, the FlourGarden.  Learn how Greentopia will transform the historic industrial High Falls district into a model of sustainable and sensitive development, creating New York’s first EcoDistrict!  Meet at the west end of the Pont de Rennes Bridge at Platt Street & Brown’s Race. 

3 to 4 p.m.: Walking Tours of the Heritage Trail.
Meet on the north side of the Rundel Memorial Building at the corner of Broad Street and South Avenue for a one-mile walking tour of this new urban trail that tells the story of Rochester through its buildings and landmarks.  Tour ends at Susan B. Anthony Square Park.  Consider staying for a visit of the Susan B. Anthony House or take a free shuttle back to Rundel Memorial Building.  

5:30 to 8:00 p.m.: Twilight River Romance Dinner Cruise.
Depart from Corn Hill Landing, 290 Exchange Blvd., for an elegant dinner and romantic views of the Rochester skyline and historical sites along the Genesee River and Erie Canal. Seating is limited. Advance ticket purchases – before Noon, Sat. Oct. 4 – is required. Ticket price includes (cruise, dinner, and one complimentary champagne cocktail.) For details and ticket information visit www.sampatch.org.

5 to 7 p.m.: Family Skate at Genesee Valley Ice Rink.
131 Elmwood Ave. Open skate fees: 17 and under, $2; 18 and over $5. College students $3 with ID. Skate rental $3. Call 585-428-7888.

Sunday, October 5


Events in Charlotte, Ontario Beach Park and Turning Point Park

11 a.m. to 3 p.m.:  O’Rorke Bridge and Port Project Showcase.
Join the Charlotte Community Association in the Portside Pavilion for educational displays about the O’Rorke Bridge and port project.  Charlotte merchandise and books about Charlotte history will be available for purchase.  

12’noon to 2 p.m.: Greece Historical Society Exhibits.
Members of the Greece Historical Society will be on hand in the Portside Pavilion to share education displays and exhibits.  Children’s history books will be available for purchase.  

1 to 2 p.m.: Charlotte Cemetery Tour.
Meet tour guide Jack Kemp on Lake Avenue at River Street for a guided tour of the old Village Cemetery to view the restoration work done by the Navy Seabee Veterans of America, Island X-12, to reset and repair missing/damaged headstones. Sponsored by the Charlotte Community Association.  Additional parking is available at the Ira Jacobson Post Home parking lot on St. John’s Park. Free.

1 to 3 p.m.: Guided Bike Ride of Seneca Park and Turning Point Parks.
Meet at Seneca Park Zoo parking lot. Ride on the Genesee Riverway Trail north to the Port of Rochester. See spectacular views of the river gorge, ride on the 4,000 foot boardwalk in Turning Point basin, and under the O’Rorke Bridge. This is a 12 mile ride on a paved trail with a few moderate hills. Free.

11 a.m. to 4 p.m.: Autumn at the Lake. Ontario Beach Park, Lake Avenue at Beach Avenue.
Free family fun featuring hayrides, pumpkin decorating, children’s activities, Rec’ on the Move mobile recreation vehicles, free historic Dentzel Carousel rides and the Grease Paint Alley Clowns doing face painting and balloon animals. Refreshments are available. See Greece Historical Society and the Charlotte Village and Transportation Museum exhibits on Col. Patrick O’Rorke and soldiers from Charlotte/Greece who served in the Civil War. Buy exclusive Charlotte history books and merchandise, postcards, hats, t-shirts. Sponsored by the Ontario Beach Park Program Committee and the Charlotte Community Association.

1 to 5 p.m.: Charlotte Genesee Lighthouse Tours.
Visit the oldest surviving lighthouse on Lake Ontario (1822).  Tour includes climbing the Tower, viewing the Keeper’s House and the War of 1812 International Peace Garden. The gift shop is also open. $3 admission. For further information call 585-621-6179 or visit www.geneseelighthouse.org.

2 p.m. to 3 p.m.: Murals of Charlotte High School.
Join Bob Paradise and Marie Poinan in the Charlotte High School Auditorium for a talk on the 1942 WPA murals of Carl Peters and the story of their restoration in 2009. Event sponsored by the Charlotte High Archivists and the Class of 1945.  Commemorative mural poster and note cards will be available. Free.

3 to 3:30 p.m.: Tour of Charlotte High School. 
Meet at the front door to take a guided tour of the newly-remodeled building that is home to both Charlotte High School and the Leadership Academy for Young Men which reopened in September 2013. One of twelve schools in Rochester Schools Modernization Program, Charlotte received recognition from the Rochester chapter of the AIA in the Interior Design category. Not recommended for children under 10. Free.

Other events along the Genesee River

8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.: 26th Annual Head of the Genesee Regatta Day #2.
Brighton, Cross-Currents, Fairport, McQuaid, Mercy, and Pittsford will compete against many other national high school programs. Local racing clubs for masters from the Genesee Rowing Club, The Genesee Waterways and Naiades Rowing clubs will match up against clubs from several states and Canada.

10 a.m. to 4 p.m.: Sam Patch Cruises Along the Genesee.
Cruises leave from Corn Hill Landing.  Tickets are $5.00 per person.  Food and drink are available for purchase.  For details and reservations please visit www.sampatch.org.  

11 a.m. to 2 p.m.: One-hour Walking Tours from Corn Hill Landing to the Broad Street Aqueduct and back to Corn Hill.
Tours will begin at 11 a.m. and will take place every hour with the last tour leaving at 2 p.m.. Tours leave from the Waterspirit sculpture at the south end of  Corn Hill Landing, 290 Exchange Blvd., Saturday and Sunday. The walking tours are free. 

12 to 4 p.m.: High Falls Interpretive Center and Museum. 
Whether you’re visiting Rochester for the first time or are a long-time resident of the “Flower City,” the High Falls Interpretive Center and Museum provides an inviting place to learn something new about Rochester’s history.  Located in a refurbished 19th-centruy Waterworks Building overlooking the Genesee River’s majestic falls near downtown Rochester, the museum boasts a number of hands-on, multi-media exhibits to engage children, in addition to interpretive displays, artwork, photographs, and artifacts for adult audiences. The museum and visitors center is located at 74 Browns Race. 
10 a.m. and 1 p.m.: Guided Canoe Along the Genesee from Seth Green to Ontario Beach Park.  Join us for an enjoyable and educational row along the Genesee River.  Sites of interest to include: Lower Falls, Veteran’s Memorial Bridge, Seneca Park, Riverside Cemetery, Turning Point Park and more. $20.00 per boat. Maximum three per canoe. All children under 18 must be accompanied by an adult.  Pre-registration required.  Call 585-820-8860 to register.  Meet at the parking lot on Seth Green Drive off of St. Paul Street. 

12 to 3 p.m.: Walking tour of “Rock Park.”
Visit one of the nation’s only urban kayak facilities.  Join Director and Olympic Coach Art Miller on a walking tour of this urban treasure. View the river’s rapids and the Lower Falls up close. Learn how city kids are learning to whitewater kayak in the middle of their neighborhood while gaining an appreciation for nature and the environment.  Park at the Seth Green fishing access lot, corner of Norton Street and Saint Paul Boulevard and walk down Seth Green Drive to the Kayak Adventures tent.

2 to 4 p.m.: Mount Hope Cemetery Walking Tour.
Meet at the North Cemetery Entrance, 791 Mount Hope Ave., opposite Robinson Drive. Tour includes both paved roads and uneven terrain. Learn about local history and famous Rochesterians, including Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass, the horticulture, geology, physical geography, architecture, symbolism, and more of this historic gem. Free. For more information: 585-461-3494 or go to www.fomh.org.

2 to 5:15 p.m.: Family Skate at Genesee Valley Ice Rink.
131 Elmwood Ave. Fees: 17 and under $2; 18 and over $5, college students $3 with ID. Skate rental, $3. For more information, call 585-428-7888.

2 to 3:30 p.m.: The 100 Acre Plot.
Meet on the north side of the Rundel Memorial Building on the SW corner of Broad and South for a walk through Rochester's original 100 Acre Plot which was surveyed in 1811.  Sites will include the Power's Building, the Main Street Bridge, the Genesee River north of Main Street and St. Luke's Church.

Walking Tours on the Corn Hill Historic Wellness Trail
Starting at the Genesee River, take a self-guided walking or biking tour of the Corn Hill Neighborhood, home to some of Rochester’s earliest citizens. The Corn Hill Historic Wellness Trail takes participants to landmarks that trace the neighborhood from the early 1800s to its current renaissance. Wegmans has sponsored the publication of a Passport, which maps and describes the sites on the trail.   Free Passports can be picked up at the first marker at the River near the Waterspirit Sculpture at the south end of Corn Hill Landing.   

2014 Sponsors  & Community Partners

 Rochester River Romance is coordinated and sponsored by the City of Rochester and MVP Health Care in partnership with City Newspaper (www.rochestercitynewspaper.com), VisitRochester (www.visitrochester.com ) and a host of community organizations.

Community Partners:

Zoom in on the River

View Gigapan images of the Genesee  

Gigapan-River-Romance  

Corn Hill From East  

West Bank Panorama  

High Falls In Summer  

For More Information

Contact the Department of Recreation and Youth Services at (585) 428-6755, or call 311 (if you're outside the city, dial 585-428-5990).


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