PORTSMOUTH — No Fanfare, no balloons, cotton candy, food booths, parade, rides, boat races, or a pageant will happen on the river on Labor Day weekend in Portsmouth, Ohio, this year.
Cancellations have become a big part of lives both in Ohio and all over the world. Wednesday, another group had to disappoint so many, as unfortunately, River Days as we know it, has had to be canceled.
One of the main highlights of the entire River Days set up is the Miss River Days Parade and Pageant. Speaking with Lori Lowe, who has been the Pageant Director for many years, she spoke about what not having River Days in September meant for the Miss River Days’ candidates and other things about the cancellation and future plans.
“I would say like everyone else in town, we are adjusting and we are disappointed,” Lowe said. “Friends of Portsmouth and the River Days Committee held off as long as we could. There were others that belong to the Ohio Festivals Events Association that had festivals in October that were already canceling.”
Lowe talked about the time that has already been put in, “We start with the girls on March 1, it is their first event together, so some of them have already completed their community service. Miss Northwest has hers completed and she has a leg up, and all the girls have chosen their platforms and they all have their events planned.”
Lowe continued, “I have to say, Kevin Hoops, who is our photographer for the first time under my leadership, has been beyond fabulous he has already provided some other events for the girls, he has done a prom, so the girls could wear their gowns and when the St. Patrick’s Day parade was canceled and since it was the girls’ first showing, he did a photoshoot where they were having an opportunity to have fun. They all participated in the Feed Your Neighbor with the Counseling Center, Friends of Portsmouth and the Highway Patrol, so those food drives happened in all 12 communities. New Boston completely rocked everybody with over 3,000 canned goods. They really stepped up to the challenge to participate and give to the food pantries.”
Lowe shared they are a good group of girls and they are making the best of a bad situation with hopes to have the Vern Riffe Center scheduled and the pageant will be Dec. 19 during Winterfest.
“We are holding strong that we will still get to put a pageant onstage and they will get the best experience that they can,” Lowe said.
Lowe continued, “Right now, we still have not got to practice because I can’t put a dozen of them with moms and pageant moms all together. I just look at the positive, we are just going to get to spend more time with them. We are fortunate enough to have groups in Portsmouth who want to support it and who still want to see it happen. My goal would still be for them to get as much done before school starts and not to take away from either experience, as school will be crazy enough for all of us, and then to add the extra responsibilities with River Days in there that they would not normally have had. I’m fortunate to have a great committee and we are looking at all the different ways we can make it as positive as possible and not make it conflict with the other things they have in school. It’s going to be impossible to avoid conflict. We still want them to have the experience, the bonding experience, to be able to contribute to the community and they have done that with the food drive. It was a big way they were able to contribute back.”
Lowe talked more about the situations as it is, “Things will look a little different and I think everybody is in hopes that we can return to a little bit of normacy and like I said, we held out as long as we could. The Christmas parade will look a little different. We had picked our float themes: ‘River Days Let Us Float Your Boat.’ Come December, we’re going to have a lot of interesting floats. If it turns out to be a nighttime parade, it’ll be fun. It’s just important that in everything we do right now, we stay positive, lead with positive experince and then the more our kids will respond to that.”
Lowe said, “River Days is meant to provide them a good experience, we are doing the same thing with our little girls. We usually have 65 to 70 people and we love our little people, I have a lot of disappointed little girls now too. My goal is to offer some clinics for the little girls to provide some activity, whether we do them 10 kids at a time and people sign up for time slots, we’re not sure 100% what it is going to look like, but we’re sure going to try.”
Lowe spoke some on the River Days experience, “The competition needs to be fair, there is a reputation of the program and the pride we have in the program. We don’t want a Miss River Days 2020 to have an asterisk beside it. They want to earn it, like the 55 women who have worn the crown before. The girls are anxious, and we want to give them as much information as possible. Actually, we have a private group in Facebook for the moms, pageant moms and girls that we keep in contact and I tried to keep them informed as well as I could.”
As far as a disappointment and when asked who was most disappointed, Lowe said that it’s just like everything else that the children have been through this year, things are just not the same. Some of the girls she said had been looking forward to this since they were 5 years old and it’s not the same. She said that there were 12 committee people who were disappointed too, herself and 11 other women who try to do what is best for these girls. She also said that part of the excitement is filling the Vern Riffe with 1,300 screaming people doing it and with 24 parents in the audience would not do it. She said that they wanted to give them the best opportunity possible.
“The history of River Days is very important to our community. It was the Friends of Portsmouth’s first year, they had some very exciting plans and not they are just not going to get to do and they will just have to wait until next year,” Lowe said.
Reach Kimberly Jenkins (740)353-3101 ext. 1928
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