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Grand Opening Of Mission Reach This Saturday

Completion of the final phase of the Mission Reach will be celebrated Saturday with a four-mile party along the San Antonio River.

Officials say the newest section of Riverwalk is especially fun for the outdoor enthusiasts.

Cyclists and hikers along the Mission Reach early Thursday morning took advantage of the quiet of the natural area at the same time last-minute construction was being completed in advance of Saturday’s grand opening.

Steven Schauer with the San Antonio River Authority said Saturday’s celebration marks the end of the construction and the beginning of the wildscape growth and natural development.

“Which is really what’s going to be exciting for our community to enjoy as they come down and hike and bike and paddle," Schauer said. "From season to season, they’re going to see different things here. In the spring, it’ll be wildflowers, in the summer you’ll have sunflowers, and after the summer it’ll be a little bit brown, but that’s what nature gives us. And it’s really going to be a wonderful experience.”

SARA has gradually opened sections of the Mission Reach since 2010 to the delight of naturalists, hikers, cyclists, and more recently, those who enjoy canoeing or kayaking. There is a flotilla planned for noon, but SARA expects the eager paddlers to be on the river early.

“We know that some of the paddling community are very excited and we anticipate some of the paddlers being out in this area probably around 10:00 to witness the opening ceremony from a seat in their canoe or kayak actually on the river," Schauer said.

The River authority has had its hands full, restoring the infrastructure and vegetation that was lost in the May 25 flood.

But short of one stairway being constructed Thursday, everything is ready now. The grand opening starts at 10 a.m. with master naturalists, fishing tournaments, food trucks, and music for four miles along the river between Mission Park Pavilions to Acequia Park.

Eileen Pace is a veteran radio and print journalist with a long history of investigative and feature reporting in San Antonio and Houston, earning more than 50 awards for investigative reporting, documentaries, long-form series, features, sports stories, outstanding anchoring and best use of sound.