Every Labor Day weekend, for Riverfest, half a million people crowd the banks of the Ohio River between the Big Mac Bridge (so-called because it looks like free advertising for McDonald’s with its yellow arches) and the Roebling Suspension Bridge. Boats begin showing up a week ahead of time to get the choice spots. You have to be at Sawyer Point in Ohio or Newport on the Levee in Kentucky by eight or nine that Sunday morning to get a good seat. If you have an office on Fourth Street, over in River Center in Covington, or live in One Lytle Place, next to US Bank Arena, you supplant the city’s richest people for one day as the most elite people in Cincinnati. Why?
Because every Sunday before Labor Day, local rock station WEBN blows up the Ohio River.
Starting in 1977, WEBN and Rozzi’s Famous Fireworks, who also blow up the river in Louisville and do the fireworks for the Reds at Great American Ball Park, put on one of the largest fireworks shows in the world, all set to music. The original show was to be a one-off event celebrating WEBN’s tenth anniversary. The response was so huge that they’ve repeated it every single year. Initially, the music sync did not work, so the fireworks were just that, fireworks, with a loud music played on the radio.
Now? One year, I watched it on television (because anything between Kentucky’s Cut in the Hill and the Norwood Lateral in Ohio is going to be gridlocked for five hours after the show). One section was set to the keyboard bridge from Ozzy Osbourne’s “No More Tears.” Red blossoms exploded in perfect time to the piano while white flares went off for each guitar note. Perfectly synched. After 33 years, they have this down to a science.
Will I go down this year? I have to work across the river on Sunday this year, and so will have to go home through Mt. Washington as downtown is shut down that afternoon. Not even I-71/75 is open within a few hours of the show.
So I will watch it at home. They now show it in HD on WLWT, Channel 5.
Someday, I will book a room at a downtown hotel, probably on The Banks when it opens, so Nita and I can watch from the comfort of our hotel room.
That will be a party.
More at the My Town Monday blog.