By Joanne Kosey
"You can leave Riverside, but Riverside never leaves you," said Sue Gross as she along with family, friends and interested onlookers attended the 3rd Annual Scuff Gross Regatta held in Riverside on July 6.
The regatta was established by Lion's Club member Alex Gallegos and the American Legion to recognize the late Riversider, Scuffy Gross, who was not only the longtime Riverside Township assessor, but an active member of the American Legion and the Riverside Township Lions Club. Because Scuffy was an avid sailor, the regatta was a fitting tribute to the man.
Thirty-eight participants, mostly in kayaks and ranging in age from 7 to over 70, took to the Des Plaines River for the four-mile trek, which started at 31st Street. Lots of the paddlers were local but there were several from Chicago and the Fox Lake area, including the three daughters of Scuff Gross -- Connie, Cindy and Christie -- who displayed their kayaking skills. Sue Gross and members of the family cheered as the boats made their way under the Swinging Bridge.
According to Gallegos, to insure the safety of the boaters, the water level is checked days before the event. Local fire and agencies police as well as the Cook County Forest Preserve District are aware of the event. Two area men, Tom Sisulak and Ron Belousek, both avid boaters, are referred to as the "rear admirals," since they follow the field of participants completing the regatta.
Participation in the local event has increased through the years. The first, an under-the-radar paddle, involved just a handful of folks. Last year's drew 25, with this year's attracting another dozen or so.
With interest from the Cook County Forest Preserve, talks have begun to have the regatta launch from Cermak Road, which would make the Scuff Gross Regatta event 5.5 miles on the Des Plaines.
As the colorful crafts made their way around the bend in the river participants were able to take an appreciative look at the beautiful surroundings of this area.
Following the regatta, friends and family gathered at La Barra restaurant to catch up and remark how "Scuff" would have enjoyed himself as much as the rest of us and look forward to gathering again for Regatta 2020.
The Gross family may have physically left Riverside, but they will always have Riverside with them.