West Columbia’s Riverwalk may be one of the most influential additions ever in West Columbia.
Imagine the sound of water flowing over the rocks in the Congaree River. It’s been a hot day, but the breeze picks up, just as you hear those first sweet notes filling the air at the West Columbia Amphitheater. Is it the sound of The Allman Brothers, Hank Jr., The Commodores, The Rolling Stones, Garth, Michael Jackson? Or maybe it’s an original from the band on stage?
Whatever it is, it’s time to relax and enjoy the moments you covet in life.
A staple of the Wyman M. “Mac” Rish Riverwalk and Amphitheater is the Spring CMC Rhythm on the River Concert Series. And with the success of the Spring series, a Fall line-up was added.
“Riverwalk has been a huge addition to West Columbia,” said Gregg Pinner, president and CEO of the Greater Cayce-West Columbia Chamber. The Chamber has been the organizational sponsor of the Rhythm on the River concerts for 13 years. He said Riveralk, along with the concerts, have helped transform the area.
“Before Riverwalk, there was a perceived divide between Columbia and the West Colombia area. The river was between us, and it was like there was a wall between us, too. Riverwalk has really opened it up.”
West Columbia Mayor Bobby Horton agreed. He said the venue for Rhythm on the River is one of the city’s most valued assets.
“Riverwalk and the amphitheater are a treasure for West Columbia,” Horton said. “Its benefits are countless.”
Pinner complimented the City of West Columbia for its foresight in developing the property that provides so much access to the river.
“They have created the best place to go, with Riverwalk,” Pinner said.
Pinner credited Mike Dawson and the River Alliance for coming up with the idea for Rhythm on the River. He said after Riverwalk was built, the concerts provided a way to show off the pedestrian-inviting pathway that parallels the Saluda and Congaree rivers.
“After a couple of years, the chamber took over Rhythm on the River,” said Pinner. “I’m a music guy, so it was a natural fit.”
Rhythm on the River got a boost in the early years via grant from Lexington County.
But after that, Rhythm on the River lost its commercial sponsor. At that point, Pinner said CMC Metals stepped in and became Rhythm on the River’s top sponsor. That was in the early 2000s, and CMC has been the sponsor since.
In addition to CMC, there are several other sponsors of the concerts, and Pinner said Rhythm on the River is a good investment to promote a brand.
“Rhythm on the River grows every year,” he said. “We may have an up or down week depending on external circumstances like weather, but over the years our attendance has been good, and it’s steadily growing. It’s Rhythm on the River. People know it, and know about it, and they are going to come to the West Columbia Amphitheater for it.”
Protecting and Serving
While procuring the music is a big part of Rhythm on the River, it does not happen without a lot coordination.
Capt. John Norman of the West Columbia Police Department said his job, with his colleagues, is to protect and serve. And nowhere is that more apparent than at Rhythm on the River.
Police can offer emergency assistance and a medical response if needed, Norman said. And officers prepare for the unexpected. They look to see if anything is out of place.
“There is a lot of planning that goes into working a public event,” Norman said. “We know who is supposed to be there and we keep our eyes open.”
Norman said in some cases West Columbia Police collaborate with SLED if help with a helicopter, or a more involved effort, is required.
While law enforcement is safety conscious, Norman said the police do not want to be too obtrusive at an event that is fun-based.
“We want people to know they can approach us,” he said. “We are here to help.”
Norman also said events like Rhythm on the River attract out-of-town visitors to Riverwalk. West Columbia Police are always on hand to make sure traffic flows smoothly and people on the site are steered out of harm’s way.
So it is with the joint effort of a lot of people, the City of West Columbia, the West Columbia Police Department, the Fire Department, the Chamber and its many volunteers, that Rhythm on the River has been perfected.
Rhythm on the River has become not only a bridge to a diverse group of fans, it’s an opportunity for West Columbia to show off one of its most-attractive assets. And for that, all of the Midlands is appreciative.
Written by Terry Ward. Full article can be found here: http://westmetronews.net/riverwalks-rhythm-river-bridge-transform-west-columbia/