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Steamboat Nights celebration returns to Jeffersonville this weekend

City of Jeffersonville

Jeffersonville’s Steamboat Nights is coming back to Big Four Park this weekend.

The two-night festival is a continuation of Steamboat Days, which Jeffersonville first celebrated nearly 50 years ago.

“It's a festival that when I was a kid growing up, it was very popular, and then it kind of went away for a long time, and then the Parks Department brought it back,” said Amber Ridings, assistant parks director.

This year’s event offers live music, a silent disco and family-friendly attractions.

The festivities will feature glow-in-the dark art installations, including a balloon glow and opportunities for children to create their own designs.

“We’ll have some hot air balloons that will be on property that will be lit up,” Ridings said. “We also have some carnival-type rides. We have a train for kids, we’ll have slides and a huge swing.”

Steamboat Nights is meant to bring residents together for a weekend of fun, but it also celebrates Jeffersonville’s history as a shipbuilding hub.

The former Jeffboat shipyard was one of the largest inland shipbuilders in the country before shutting down in 2018. City officials recently announced a partnership with the property’s owner to redevelop the site into a mixed-use community space.

“A lot of houses can see the river, and there's boats that go up and down it every day,” Ridings said. “With having Jeffboat here — and they produced barges and you could actually see the barges being put into the Ohio River — I just think that [Steamboat Nights] just kind of brings it all together and kind of makes us proud to be the city that's right on the river.”

Steamboat Nights runs from 7 to 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.

John, News Editor for LPM, is a corps member with Report For America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms. Email John at jboyle@lpm.org.

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