By Bruce Amaro
---- — What a way to end the summer: An afternoon of events built around the river that once drove Haverhill’s economy and now celebrates its revival. And it is all capped off by a spectacular fireworks display.
“These events attract people into the city and showcase our downtown,’’ Mayor James Fiorentini said of the annual River Ruckus festival, which will be Sept. 7. “When people visit here, they see a revitalized Haverhill as a place for people to enjoy a wide venue of entertainment.
“These events show people what Haverhill can do, and hopefully they’ll come back,” Fiorentini said.
The Team Haverhill civic organization will present its third annual River Ruckus from 2 to 9:30 p.m., in conjunction with the fifth annual Haverhill Rotary Club Rubber Duck Regatta, which starts at noon. The River Ruckus will begin at the river boardwalk behind The Tap restaurant.
The ruckus will happen rain or shine. If it rains, the fireworks display will be postponed to Sept. 8.
The Rotary Club event, famous for its annual race of toy ducks on the Merrimack River to raise money, features ducks sold for a dollar.
Each duck is labeled with the sponsor’s name and put into a large container that will be emptied into the Merrimack River at 3:30 p.m. Saturday. The ducks will float down river to the finish line 700 feet away.
The first duck to enter a tube that marks the end of the race wins $10,000 for its sponsor. The money is donated by Rockingham Toyota-Honda of Salem, N.H.
The money raised by this event provides support for several organizations, including the YMCA, YWCA, the Boys and Girls Club, Emmaus programs for homeless people, Community Action program, the Bethany Homes for elders, Team Coordinating Agency and Merrimack Valley Hospice, said John Cuneo, co-chairman of the duck regatta.
Team Haverhill kicks off the River Ruckus at 2 p.m. with a Classic Car Show. The show displays vehicles such as Ford Thunderbirds and Mustangs, Chrysler Imperials, Chevrolet sports cars and the Sting Ray version of the Corvette.
The classic cars are from the 1950s, ‘60s and ‘70s. Custom hot rods will also be on display. They will include muscle cars and military and specialty cars. Commentary will be by Haverhill Community TV’s Frank Novak, who will describe the features and history of the cars.
For the festival’s younger visitors, Team Haverhill has scheduled events and entertainment throughout the day, including a drum circle, face painting and a place to make balloon animals.
For those interested in a view of the city from the water, visitors can purchase duck regatta paraphernalia and view information about the river and its wildlife presented by the Joppa Flats Education Center of the Massachusetts Audubon Society and by the Merrimack River Watershed Council, said Susan Kane of Team Haverhill.
Throughout the day and into early evening just before the fireworks finale, a variety of bands will entertain the crowd. They include: The Jason Spooner Band, sponsored by Pentucket Medical Associates; Marina Evans sponsored by Rockingham Boat; Skinny Cleveland sponsored by the Lowell 5 Bank; and the Aldous Collins Band sponsored by Pentucket Bank.
Sponsors who helped make this year’s River Ruckus happen are the HTM Credit Union, Pentucket Bank, Haverhill Bank, Lowell 5 Bank, Pentucket Medical Associates, Trinity EMS, Rockingham Boat and Whole Foods Market of Andover.
Haverhill Bank sponsors the Classic Car Show. HTM Credit Union sponsors the fireworks display.
River Ruckus schedule
2 to 5 p.m.: Classic Car Show sponsored by Haverhill Bank, Washington Street
2 to 5 p.m.: Children’s activities at the gazebo area, offered by Girls, Inc., Trinity Episcopal Church and Haverhill YMCA, including face painting, a drum circle and balloon animals
2 to 6 p.m.: Public voting for Art Exhibition of the Merrimack River, Sage Art Gallery, 22 Washington St.
2 to 7 p.m.: Merrimack River pontoon boat rides provided by Rockingham Boat to benefit the Clean River Project, $2 cost and $1 for children 12 and younger
2 to 4 p.m.: River geology tours by Haverhill Mine & Gem, Team Haverhill booth
2 to 7 p.m.: Arts & Crafts Faire organized by Haverhill Cultural Council, 90 Washington St.
2 to 9:30 p.m.: Taste of Haverhill at restaurant booths, food for sale from local restaurants including Keon’s, Haverhill Beef, Barking Dog Ale House, Artist Café, and Scovotti’s Cooking and Confections
2:15 to 3:30 p.m.: Jason Spooner Band, sponsored by Pentucket Medical Associates, main stage
4 to 5:15 p.m.: Music by Marina Evans, sponsored by Rockingham Boat, main stage
5:30 to 7 p.m.: Skinny Cleveland Band, sponsored by Lowell 5 Bank, main stage
7:20 to 8:45 p.m.: Headliner Aldous Collins Band, sponsored by Pentucket Bank, main stage
9 p.m.: Fireworks spectacular over the Merrimack River, sponsored by HTM Credit Union (rain date is Sept. 8 at 9 p.m.)
Rotary Club’s Rubber Duck Regatta schedule
Noon to 2:30 p.m. or until sold out: Last chance to buy a duck and a chance to win $10,000, Haverhill Rotary Club booth
Noon to 4 p.m.: Merrimack River kayak rentals and rides provided by Plum Island Kayak, single rentals are $10, doubles are $15, Plum Island Kayak booth
Noon to 4 p.m.: Touch tank teeming with life and other displays from the Joppa Flats Educational Center of the Massachusetts Audubon Society, gazebo area
3:30 to 3:45 p.m.: Rubber Duck Regatta sponsored by Rockingham Toyota-Honda of Salem N.H., Comeau Bridge and boardwalk near city docks
5:15 p.m.: Rubber Duck Regatta winner announced and $10,000 awarded, main stage
NOTE: Times depend on the tide, current and wind.
For complete schedule of events, see Page 6.