Staff Writer • Winnipeg Free Press • September 18, 2011
An estimated 10,000 kids and teens gathered Saturday at The Forks to praise Jesus and rock the river.
The Rock the River event was organized by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association of Canada with the local help of 130 churches in Winnipeg and beyond. Franklin Graham, the eldest son of the well-known American evangelical Christian Billy Graham, was the featured speaker at the concert.
Similar Rock the River concerts and family festivals were held this summer in Milwaukee, Wis., and Denver, Colo., as a way to reach out to young people. An average of 10,000 people attended last year's three events.
"We want young people to know a belief in Jesus is something to be happy about and be proud of, not to be embarrassed about," said Jeff Adams, the association's director of communications.
Saturday morning, hundreds of families gathered at The Forks to play on bouncy castles, get their faces painted and enjoy some entertainment. In the evening, Christian bands such as Starfield, Thousand Foot Krutch and Winnipeg rapper Fresh IE performed.
The event also kicks off the Christmas shoe box project held annually by the Christian relief organization Samaritan's Purse. Families can pack a shoe box with gifts for a needy child overseas as part of Operation Christmas Child.