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Schuylkill River Trail draws a crowd of celebrants
They came to jog, to walk, to bike and sightsee. They came to push their babies, build their muscles and interact with others. And, they came by the hundreds, passing by in heat that threatened to sear the green grass around them.

The turnout along the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia did not go unnoticed by Department of Environmental Resources Secretary John Quigley:

“Seeing the traffic on this trail this morning—the bikes zooming past; the walkers; the runners; the mothers pushing strollers—it all shows that building a lifelong connection to this river and to its natural resources is incredibly powerful and incredibly important work,” Quigley said. “And I don’t think there’s any community in Pennsylvania, or perhaps in the country that’s doing it any better than Philadelphia.”

DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn addresses the crowd at the Schuylkill River Trail.

The DEP chief was among a long list of national, state, and local officials and trail enthusiasts who gathered Sept. 2 to celebrate the Schuylkill River Trail being named USA TODAY’s Best Urban Trail. The event took place on Schuylkill Banks and was hosted by the Schuylkill River Heritage Area in partnership with DCNR.

Department Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn also was among those gathered to hail the trail:

“I have to tell you how happy a day this is for the men and women who work for DCNR,” Dun told the gathering. “A huge cheer went up when this trail was named the best urban trail in America.

“I know that cheer went up among our many partners who made this trail possible,” Dunn said. “Every single foot of an urban trail is a lot of hard work and requires tremendous cooperation.”

And then there was Leslie Richards, secretary of the state Department of Transportation, who noted the area was a far cry from the view she had, looking out the window of Locust Point apartments where she one lived: “Trust me, we have come a long, long way on this trail.”

Greeting those three speakers, and more, was emcee Michael DiBerardinis, former DCNR secretary, now serving as Philadelphia’s Deputy Mayor for Environmental and Community Resources:

“I had the pleasure of working with both Cindy Dunn and John Quigley at DCNR and I am delighted to have them as part of this ceremony,” DiBerardinis said. “Their commitment to trails, their commitment to water quality and sustainability; their passion and intelligence and ability to collaborate and lead the state agencies is second to none.”

Raising the banner along the Schuylkill River Trail.

USA TODAY’s 10Best Readers’ Choice Award for Best Urban Trail featured trails from across the country. A panel of travel and outdoor recreation experts nominated 20 trail systems located near major U.S. cities and turned to USA TODAY and 10Best readers to vote for their favorite trail. Supporters say the Schuylkill River Trail’s win is a testament to its popularity for locals and tourists alike, and the region’s dedication to improving access to multi-use trails and public space.

The Schuylkill River Trail is the region’s most heavily used multi-use, recreation and commuter trail, and maintains a strong reputation as not only a local amenity, but a tourist attraction as well. When complete, the Schuylkill River Trail is projected to be nearly 130 miles long, connecting five Pennsylvania counties—and will be a key corridor of the Circuit trail network and the East Coast Greenway.

Currently 300 miles of completed trails, the final Circuit is a planned 750-mile network of bicycle and pedestrian trails connecting people to jobs, communities, parks, and rivers in the Greater Philadelphia Region.

A filmed glimpse of the ceremony can be found here.

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September 9, 2015

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