Last week, the Greater Rome Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Rome Braves partnered up to showcase the inaugural business voyage of the Roman Holiday riverboat and ECO Center at Ridgeferry Park. Together they set up the boat ride and catered the post-cruise meal.
I arrived at the park on time and took off my shades. It was one of the first summer feeling days this spring; and I appreciated the scenery while wondering if there was enough time to check out the cool gazebo overlooking the river next to the dock. There wasn’t. As I approached the river boat I reminded myself that I was here to do some serious work. Like an explorer I must see Rome from the river’s side.
“My instructions are to get on the boat and entertain” said said one of the event staff. Jimmy Buffet was playing in the background as we took off from Ridgeferry Park.
The Roman Holiday also does school cruises for history, ecology, and biology classes. I could see this happening as one of the ECO center staff pointed to the spot in the river where the civil war era boat the Dixie lay. Its hull can be seen underwater when the water is low. Bits of trivia and the companionship of the Roman Holiday’s other passengers entertained us as we took advantage of the nice day and unique opportunity. On the way back I noticed that we were passing under bridges that I have only walked over while visiting the downtown’s riverfront, located just off Broad Street. Next to me was a lady doing the bridge-of-the-Titanic-pose on the Roman Holiday’s nose. Now THAT is river boat freedom.
The ECO Center is located in Ridge Ferry Park. It has an open area to entertain and wildlife exhibits including a mossy turtle and bear fur pelts. “Look, an orange fox!” exclaimed someone I didn’t see. Apparently they have a fox in the ECO center as well.
The event was catered by the Rome Braves, showing that they were capable and culpable of full scale catering. Their chef is classically trained and judging from the excellent BBQ I had, he and his staff can do more than just hamburgers and hotdogs. The Center itself has a flat $1500 rental, and renters are free to bring alcohol. With all this at your disposal I can only wonder all the different types of events that can take place.
The ECO Center is SPLOST funded and was the original pump station for all of Rome’s water. It’s been lovingly renovated with the original wood floors and vintage elements, including a large cutout in the floor to see the original pumps some 6 stories down.
Our experience is the water’s perspective in which the three rivers confluence around the town and stand as testament to the old guard, nature, where Rome rests. Not the other way around. Something older and valuable is in these rivers. The boat ride and the ECO Center remind people of that.
Along for the ride was Villa Hizer. She is the daughter of Joel Suizbacher who is the man that named and donated the boat. This goes to show Rome’s citizens also play a pivotal role in making the town a good place to visit.
Turns out I got to try fine wines on the water and BBQ on land through this experience. I also gained a few river buddies on the process.