Wednesday, August 30, 2000

Houseboats give front-row fireworks seats

Friends spend 2 weeks on water before holiday

By Terry Flynn
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        NEWPORT — Retired bricklayer Joe Gilb is a resident of Anderson Township 50 weeks of the year, and the Newport riverfront the other two — the weeks leading up to Labor Day and Riverfest.

[photo] Longtime friends (left to right) Don Haas of Bethel, Joe Gilb of Anderson Township and Larry Holley of Price Hill enjoy their morning coffee this week on Newport's riverfront.
(Patrick Reddy photo)
| ZOOM |
        Mr. Gilb and two friends, Don Haas of Bethel and Larry Holley of Price Hill, have been coming to the Kentucky shore for a dozen years to get the choice moorings from which to view the annual fireworks display.

        “It's been 12 or 13 years in a row now,” Mr. Gilb said as he relaxed on the deck of his 40-foot houseboat, Carol J. “I got here a week ago Sunday (Aug. 20). The other guys came just after me.”

        The houseboats, which will share the waters with other boats of all sizes when Sunday rolls around, pretty much have all the comforts of home, as long as you don't need too much room.

        “I've got a full-sized shower in here,” Mr. Holley said as he walked through the cabin of his 40-foot Jean's Tub. “It's really pretty nice.”

        But what is there to do for two weeks on the Newport riverfront, especially when the wives take off to shop and otherwise enjoy themselves on land?

        “Oh, we enjoy a few beers,” Mr. Gilb said with a grin. “I do a little fishing. But this year I haven't been able to get a bite. We just take it easy. We go out to eat once in a while, but we eat most of our meals on the boat.”

        Mr. Haas looked at the shoreline and hill that leads to James Taylor Park, and remarked that city workers had done a good job of clearing all the high grass, weeds and bushes while provid ing several large plastic trash cans.

        “Newport takes good care of us,” Mr. Gilb said.

        “I'm not sure they're doing it for us, but I'm glad they did anyway,” Mr. Haas added.

        Mr. Gilb recalled that for several years the group, which Mr. Holley jokingly called the Three Musketeers, had been mooring along the Covington shore just below Riverside Drive, just across the Licking River from their current site.

        “But Covington didn't want us there any more, so we moved to Newport,” he said. Covington began discouraging Riverfest fans from early docking a few years ago.

        While the two weeks on a boat is a combination of relaxation, fun and comradeship, Mr. Gilb admitted it also has a sad note.

        “When the fireworks are over, you know summer's about over,” he said.

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