Odyssey Chicago River Christening: "The River Belongs To Us All'

(Video courtesy of Nikki Mappa)

Friends of the Chicago River Executive Director Margaret Frisbie christened the new Odyssey Chicago River vessel October 16, with company officials praising the environmental organization for its decades of advocacy and stewardship of the waterway.

Dan Russell, regional vice president of Entertainment Cruises, noted that 40 years ago, when Friends began, the Chicago River was a neglected waterway with very little entertainment or recreational activity. Friends has "led the way of the transformation of the river," he said, "something that we on the river apperciate and benefit from."

With a crack of a champagne bottle, Frisbie christened the new glass-enclosed boat, the second for Entertainment Cruises in Chicago.  Lunch, brunch, cocktail and dinner cruises will operate year round on what the company calls "a floating oasis."

"The Odyssey Chicago River is a beautiful symbol of how far we have come since Friends was founded almost 40 years ago and a wonderful example of what is possible if everyone is willing to work hard and dream big," Frisbie told a crowd gathered for the event. 

"Friends is proud of the success we have had in transforming the river from a polluted back alleyway into a natural, recreational and economic asset. Our success can be measured in miles of trail, species of fish, towering riverfront skyscrapers, and the fact that just a few weeks ago I jumped into the Chicago River with elected officials from every level of government to demonstrate our commitment to swimming," she said.

Frisbie said the Odyssey Chicago River fits into "one of the fundamental goals" of the Friends organization: to bring people close to the water so they can appreciate it, support it, and protect it.

"The river belongs to us all. Being out on the water is a magical way to connect with it and learn about its health," she said, calling the new boat "a new and very special way to experience that magic and helping to bring the river to life."

Friends Executive Director Margaret Frisbie (center) prepares to swing the champagne bottle.

Dan Russell, regional vice president of Entertainment Cruises, makes a toast to "To the sea...to the sailors before us...to the sea."

As the vessel's "godmother," Frisbie christens the ship: "May she bring fair winds and good fortune to all who sail her."

Can't have a christening without champagne...

...or a crowd to cheer.

Frisbie also placed a bouquet on the bow of the ship, saying "May the Odyssey Chicago River enjoy peace and good fortune in the fine city of Chicago and bring good luck to all who celebrate aboard her decks."

The new Odyssey Chicago River is the latest sign of the improvement of the Chicago River. Built in Florida, it can host 200 guests.

Bubbly on board.

Entertainment Cruises says the Odyssey Chicago River "takes a leisurely route" going as far north as Goose Island and as far south as the Canal Street bridge.