Trib Live: River Rocks fundraiser to help blaze a trail in Aspinwall

Tawnya Panizzi | Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2021 12:00 p.m.

Attendees of the River Rocks fundraiser at Allegheny RiverTrail Park in Aspinwall will get a first-ever glimpse at 6 acres of newly acquired property that is expected to further transform the site into a regional gem.

“ARP is using its 10th anniversary party to raise funds to achieve a long-held dream, that is to blaze a trail towards the city,” said park founder Susan Crookston of Fox Chapel.

A much-anticipated, always sold-out social event, the party will double as a fundraiser to help pay for the anticipated $1.5 million design and opening of the new property, along with a 1.5-mile corridor that connects with 13th Street in Sharpsburg.

River Rocks will kick off at 7 p.m. Friday at ARP with a whiskey bar, light display and live music.

Tickets start at $100; VIP access costs $125. To order, visit alleghenyrivertrailpark.org/the-river-rocks-lets-blaze-a-trail/.

Guests are asked to wear their “fiery fashion” and “smokin’ sneakers” so they can fully enjoy the outdoors.

“We hope people wear some bright colors,” co-chair Ginny Merchant said. “You can dress up or dress down – I’m going to dress up — but just wear something that makes you feel hot.”

It was 10 years ago that the community came together to raise enough money to purchase the $2.3 million Aspinwall Marina.

“Over that time, the park has transformed from a commercial marina with four acres of crumbling concrete at its center into a beloved community space offering fishing, kayaking, sledding and hosting over 400 public programs each year,” Crookston said.

The expansion, once accessible, will connect diverse communities and provide safe opportunities for generations of people to walk, hike, bird-watch and create family memories, she said.

River Rocks will be the first time the public is able to tour the new property and trail corridor.

“This year’s party will be like no other,” said River Rocks co-chair Kristin Fox. “It’s going to be entirely outside and spread over the park’s 16 acres.”

It is unique in that the co-chairs were chosen to represent every age range, from 20 to 90.

Co-chair Sally Foster said it’s exciting to be part of a major expansion that will benefit generations to come.

“It’s been over a decade since the off-road Riverfront Trail was opened in Millvale,” River Rocks Chair Phil Teplitz said. “It’s going to take every generation to come together to make a project of this scale happen.”

Organizers are eyeing a quick turnaround for the project to open to the public.

“There is a lot of work to do and money to invest to make this new parkland safely accessible,” said ARP board member Erika Wein, who is leading the park’s design committee. “But we’re so excited to be able to give people a taste of the potential of this new property.”

ARP is open from sunrise to sunset daily at 285 River Avenue, adjacent to Freeport Road.