Open water: Discover White River aims to combine river resources, opportunities in one place

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Hamilton County Tourism President/CEO Brenda Myers knows there are lots of partners engaging with the White River, and her organization wanted to help create a brand that includes all White River information in one location. The result, discoverwhiteriver.com, will be live by the end of this month.

The decision to create the Discover White River brand came after the completion of the White River Vision Plan, which was published in 2020.

“In late 2017, we began work on that and began actually planning in (2018) and ’19 with the plan being released in early ’20,” Myers said. “It was a massive undertaking with over 13,000 voices that weighed in in some way, shape or form.”

Hamilton County Tourism began working with all the organizations associated with the White River and brought new groups on board, including people in economic development, churches and other organizations.

“At the end of that, it came to two things we needed to do — establish a governance structure that wasn’t redundant or intrusive and help us figure out how to execute and implement a plan for the future, (and) the second thing was to continue all of that awareness raising we had been able to do during the White River Vision Plan,” Myers said. “Visit Indy took on the governance structure strategy with (Hamilton County Tourism) sitting at the table, and we took on brand awareness with them sitting at the table.”

Hamilton County Tourism received a $275,000 grant from the Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust to complete a 2.5-year project to create the Discover White River brand.

“Why we wanted to create a new brand versus the My White River brand is because that was affiliated with the (White River Vision Plan), and we wanted something more like Visit Indy and Visit Hamilton County,” Myers said. “It’s much broader than just the (White River Vision Plan) and the structure around the plan.”

Tourism manager Sarah Buckner said the discoverwhiteriver.com website is going to be “great.”

“It’s a one-stop shop,” she said. “It’s a unified brand for central Indiana (in respect to the river), with room to grow to other counties.”

Buckner said the website will include information such as places to eat, parks near the river, finding ways to engage with the river, a map of access points to launch a canoe or kayaks, river ecology and ways to connect with art near the river.

In addition to the launch of Discover White River, a series of conversations about the river are scheduled this month in Marion and Hamilton counties. Historian Jordan Ryan, principal at The History Concierge, Indianapolis, will lead the one-hour informal programs. The conversations will explore how the river was impacted by the surrounding community as it grew over time.

Conversations in Hamilton County include events at 1 p.m. Sept. 12 at Taylor Center for Natural History at Strawtown Koteewi Park, 12308 Strawtown Ave., Noblesville; 4 p.m. Sept. 12 at Potter’s Bridge Park, 19401 N. Allisonville Rd., Noblesville; 1 p.m. Sept. 26 at River Road Park, 12575 River Rd., Carmel; and at 4 p.m. Sept. 26 at Hazel Landing Park, 10601 Hazel Dell Pkwy., Carmel.

Besides the conversations, 10 art canoes will be on display through October. The canoes are a joint project by the White River Alliance and the White River Vision Plan to raise awareness of recent and future reinvestment and reinvigoration of Indianapolis’ waterways. Each canoe is painted by a different local artist from Marion County or Hamilton County and will reflect elements of the river at each location. Five canoes will be in Marion County and the other five in Hamilton County. The Hamilton County canoes are at Strawtown Koteewi Park, Potter’s Bridge Park, Conner Prairie, River Road Park and Hazel Landing Park. For more, visit thewhiteriveralliance.org.

Marley Merriman, left, and her mother, Tiffanie Merriman, spend time at the White River. (Photos courtesy of Daniel Grose Photography)

The brand’s significance

Discover White River’s logo is a wavy blue W with a fish outline next to the words ‘White River’ in orange. The colors and items chosen for the logo have significance.

“The waves in the W that are in blue are supposed to signify water,” Hamilton County Tourism manager Sarah Buckner said. “The fish is for all the recreational aspects of what you can do in the water. The orange color is supposed to represent the earth and shorelines.”


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