CLEVELAND - In the 80s and 90s, Cleveland's Flats was the happening spot. Tourists and Clevelanders flocked to the area along the Cuyahoga River for food, fun and the annual Riverfest.
Riverfest was held in late July. Streets were closed to accommodate the throngs of people. Bands played from barges on the river and specialty food tents set up along the streets added to the festivities.
Downtown buildings were asked to light up for the event, remember when the BP Building turned on every light in the place except for some offices kept dark to spell out "BP"? I start with aerials to show that.
But Riverfest was boats, boats and more boats. So many boats tied up along the Cuyahoga, they often rafted off each other six deep from the dock.
The highlight of the Riverfest weekend was the parade of boats Friday evening. Boat were decked out in themes much like the balloon floats in a Thanksgiving Day parade.
There were awards given to the most creative boats. In the video, I've posted from the 1990 and 1991 Riverfest parades, my personal favorite is the boat decorated as the "Flats Detour." Roads in the Flats or bridges crossing the river were often closed for repairs making for a very clever entry.
Riverfest ended for a variety of reason including an upswing in alcohol-related incidents.
With the Flats about to experience a rebirth, let's go back to remember the Flats in its heyday.
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