Former Belle of Brownville Survives Tuesdays Storms, Makes Debut as Floating Barge

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OMAHA(KPTM)-The boat formerly known as the Belle of Brownville and River City Star is making its debut again Thursday as a floating party barge for the current River City Star riverboat. It's now known as the Kon-Tiki-O and will stay parked at the River City Star location on Freedom Park Road, while providing live entertainment. Thursday's events kick off with a free event featuring a D.J. and drinks. But Tuesday's storms made it a busy week for those preparing the vessel.

Larry Richling is still reeling from Tuesday's storms as he shows a picture of some of the debris he saw float by. "This was a tree about the size of a boat, floating down the river and I had to jump out of the way because it almost hit me in the head," said Richling, who fortunately was not injured. Richling says one of the biggest clean-up challenges is moving a big pile of debris that's gotten wedged between the Kon-Tiki-O and the shore. Richling has to use a long, heavy metal pole to try to move it back into the river piece by piece. "You don't know what's on the bottom sides of these trees," said Richling who adds that separating the branches is difficult because most of them are really heavy.

Fluctuating water levels this week meant more work to get the resurrected boat ready for a Thursday evening event on the stationary barge. Ironically, it was flooding that indirectly brought the barge to Richling. In 2011, flooding left the vessel landlocked near Plattsmouth. In 2013, Richling brought it back to Omaha, retired it as a boat and turned it into a party barge . The Kon Tiki O is located next to the new River City Star. Cruises for that boat are expected to continue as scheduled.



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