Under the leadership of Michael Kaplan, the first RiverDay was held on April 21, 1991. Over 2,000 people participated in 23 events conducted on that forty degree, rainy day. The purpose of the day was to encourage people to get out and spend some time at the River, participating in stewardship, recreational and educational experiences sponsored by various park districts, municipalities and civic and religious organizations. The Director of the Department of Interior kicked off events in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Over 225 volunteers removed trash from park’s floodplain, and the National Park Service removed 113 cars from a riverbank near its administrative offices.
News outlets, including radio, TV and newspapers featured advanced publicity as well as extensive coverage of the occasion. WKSU produced over a dozen educational spots on the Cuyahoga River that ran on 89.7 before, during and after the event. Friends of the Crooked River converted this radio series into an award-winning curriculum for middle school students.
from the RiverDay web site 2012
Since that promising beginning, twenty-two annual RiverDays have been held, following the multi-event under the single umbrella format. Each brought significant media attention and watershed-wide participation. Each focused on a timely theme.