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NIAGARA FALLS – The Maid of the Mist, which has provided millions of tourists a close-up view of the base of the Horseshoe Falls for 167 years, will launch its boats for the season from the U.S. and Canadian sides of the Lower Niagara River at 10 a.m. Friday.

Although the launch is one week later than last year, it is an earlier-than-usual start for the Maid due to favorable ice conditions on Lake Erie, spokesman Kevin A. Keenan said.

Visitors may board the Maid of the Mist boats at either the Canadian or American landing, starting at 10 a.m. daily.

This will be the last season for the Maid on the Canadian side, as Hornblower Cruises will operate the boat trip next year.