By Jim McClellan
A mountain of ice cream, a forest of toppings and a stream of people filled the Carriage House at Tallahassee’s Goodwood Museum and Gardens on June 5 to celebrate and help protect the river all of them hold dear. The occasion was the annual Apalachicola Riverkeeper Ice Cream Social, an event that helps raise money and awareness for the fight to save this national treasure. This year’s social featured live music, an appearance by Miss Forgotten Coast, Victoria Rollins, and a special showing of Who Owns Water, the powerful documentary about the fight over water in the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint (ACF) basin.
Another highlight of the day was the introduction of the 2016 RiverTrek team that will leave the headwaters of the river on October 11 and for five days follow the river’s full 107-mile path to the bay at Apalachicola. New trekkers had the opportunity to hear tales from those who have made the trip in one or more of the past nine years.
Apalachicola Riverkeeper, Dan Tonsmeire gave the attendees a brief but informative update about the status of the legal and legislative efforts underway, as well as a new, national public awareness push to let all of America know about its most endangered river system.
Despite foul weather, challenges with the audio-visual equipment, and choosing among toppings that ranged from cherries, to coconut to maple-bacon syrup, participants left the event informed, inspired and energized for the long fight ahead. Nobody thinks that saving the Apalachicola is going to be easy, but everyone who attended the ice cream social knows it’s a fight we can win – and that we must.
Jim McClellan is among the fifth generation of his family to grow up on the Apalachicola River in Calhoun County. Though he now lives and works in Pensacola, Florida, he counts himself fortunate to spend most of his free time back home, hunting, fishing and enjoying life in the river swamp.