Press Release for Chicago River Day 2017

May 2, 2017


Contact: Margaret Frisbie
(312) 939-0490, ext. 22

From Rescue to Restoration, Chicago River Day Celebrates 25 Years

Chicago—On Saturday, May 13, 2017 Friends of the Chicago River will celebrate the 25th Anniversary of its annual clean up and restoration day, Chicago River Day. Established in 1992 to unite the community around the river, Friends and over 60,000 volunteers have rallied to remove more than 600 tons of trash from the river’s banks picking up everything from micro-garbage such as cigarette butts, bottle caps, shards of glass, and plastics to large and outlandish items such as tires and refrigerators. A groundbreaking metro-wide restoration event that began with a small, but visionary group of 25 volunteers, Chicago River Day has become a movement that continues to grow and activities have expanded to include riverbank restoration and tours of Friends’ Bridgehouse Museum. This year Friends’ anticipates over 2,200 volunteers to come out at over 60 sites all along the 156 mile river system. Volunteers and sponsors can sign up at

“Friends was founded 38 years ago because the Chicago River was being largely ignored. It was fenced off and polluted and the baseline for what was acceptable had sunk too low. Chicago River Day was one of the ways that we got people to take notice and get involved,” says Margaret Frisbie, executive director of Friends of the Chicago River. “Over the years thousands of people have joined us and many of them return year after year including neighborhood groups, families, Chicago Public School students, and corporations like Exelon, which has been our presenting sponsor for years.”

In honor of the 25th anniversary, Friends has a slate of River Day anniversary events planned to educate and engage the public. Highlights include gullyfixing activities at the Forest Preserves of Cook County, a litter-clearing canoe task force paddling the North Shore Channel at Dammrich Rowing Center, water quality testing at Miami Woods, new sites such as the 16th Street Riverfront Development, discovering the wonderful birding patterns at LaBagh Woods, and tackling the infamous Bubbly Creek. To encourage community engagement, Friends has developed a friendly competition among the sites for a chance to win some stellar anniversary prizes and all volunteers are asked to post photos of their efforts on River Day #chicagoriverday + tag their site #bubblycreek.

“This massive cleanup effort would not be possible without the dedication of hundreds of volunteers devoted to protecting our local waterways; partners such as the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago which will have debri boats out in support of Friends’ efforts; and our sponsors like Exelon, PepsiCo, Wrigley, and others, many of whom have been long stead-fast supporters of Friends’ work for years,” said Joanne So Young Dill, Friends’ director of strategic initiatives. Registration is free and open to the public at or contact Maggie Jones, for more information.

Founded in 1979, Friends of the Chicago River is an award winning nonprofit organization whose mission is to improve and protect the Chicago River for people, plants, and animals. With over 6,000 members, volunteers, and online advocates, Friends works to make the river greener and more accessible, while building awareness of the benefits that a clean, healthy river can bring to communities across the watershed. Friends of the Chicago River is working to make the Chicago River one of the world’s greatest metropolitan rivers. For more information on Friends of the Chicago River, please visit our website:


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