Three years removed from the drunken brawl that doomed RiverSplash, Water St. businesses are launching a tranquil alternative.
The first Milwaukee River Marathon starts at 10:30 a.m. Saturday from the boat launch in Estabrook Park and finishes five miles downstream at the Laacke & Joys docks off Water St. About 50 paddlers have signed up for the inaugural outing, and registration will be open Saturday morning until 10 a.m. at Bar Louie, 1114 N. Water St.
Adam VanderVeen organized the race and recreational paddle in his role as director of operations for the newly formed Water Street Association.
“We want to improve the reputation of the street a bit and not be known only as beer tents and bars,” VanderVeen said. “We wanted to incorporate the river and promote the river.”
The Milwaukee Riverwalk District Board scuttled its RiverSplash festival in 2009, after bad weather and violent incidents raised doubts about its viability.