By Catherine Roberts
Tulsa, Okla. – Weather reports for the Fourth of July are looking favorable for those who will be out of doors. A popular place for Oklahomans to spend the holiday is the Illinois River, and the Oklahoma Scenic River Commission expects turnouts between 1000-2000 people.
Rafting, floating, canoeing and kayaking are all available through various businesses along the river. Fishing conditions are excellent, cabins and campgrounds are available for rent, and sites along the river offer miniature golf, slides and places to eat.
Northeaster State University's River City Players will offer shows in Tahlequah, and the Cherokee Nation Heritage Center will be putting on various activities.
"This weekend a number of the commercial float operations along the river are going to have fireworks displays in the evening hours," said Ed Fite, OSRC director.
Safety in the water is a major concern for OSRC.
"Wear a personal floatation device, a life jacket," said Fite. "That's the number one thing we want folks to know this weekend."
He also recommends wearing hats, sunglasses and sunscreen. Stay hydrated by drinking thirst-quenching drinks.
Alcohol on the water can be a major safety concern.
"This year we're being more proactive; we're trying to interact with river users before they get on the water to let them know what we expect. We're there to help them," Fite said.
Highway Patrol will be concentrating on the river basin to apprehend drunk drivers and other offenders.
Visitors are encouraged to keep the environment pristine.
"One of the things that we ask folks to always do is be mindful of the river," Fite said. "Please, whatever they pack in, pack out."
For more water-safety tips and information about river conditions or attractions and ways to see the river, visit www.oklahomascenicrivers.net or call 918-456-3251.