Featuring contests, crafts and ice cream, the Family Day event at the Northeast Georgia History Center in Gainesville explored fun at Lake Lanier.
But Sunday’s “Lore of the Lake” also had a serious, if not timely, side.
Cpl. Jason Roberson of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources reminded the crowd of the lake’s dangers.
“We lost four people just (last) week on Lake Lanier ... and that’s the main reason we’re here today — to talk to you about water safety,” he said.
Roberson, who has been assigned to Lanier for 11 years, told the group gathered around him that boaters shouldn’t hesitate to call the DNR if they see any trouble on the lake.
He stressed that children under 10 years old have to wear a life jacket any time they are on the boat.
“It’s the worst part of my job ... when we have to get into the lake and look for one of these little angels,” Roberson said. “It’s one thing when an adult drowns, but when one of the little ones drown, it’s a bad day for all of us.”
He also noted that children under 12 cannot ride a personal watercraft on the water and that certain personal watercraft rules, including adult supervision, apply to drivers who are between ages 12 and 15.
Roberson referred to Wednesday’s death of a 10-year-old in the Chestatee River arm of Lake Lanier in Dawson County.
The boy and his 13-year-old brother, who were in town from McLean, Va., with family visiting friends, were riding separate personal watercraft at the time of the accident, authorities have said.
The Hall County Dive Team, displaying several pieces of equipment, also was on hand Sunday to talk about lake safety.
The History Center, which is at Brenau University, chose the lake theme for its monthly Family Day event because Lanier usually brims with activity this time of the year, said Julie Carson, education and volunteer coordinator for the center.
“There are more aspects to the lake than we can cover, so we decided to do activities associated with the lake,” she said.
The event spotlighted a watermelon seed-spitting contest and a children’s fishing game featuring cut-out drawings of fish native to Lake Lanier. Also, the Lake Lanier Rowing Club put its rowing machine on display.
Grae Swanson of Murrayville brought his two daughters to the event.
He especially is keeping up a monthly “tradition” of attending Family Day with his daughter, Mary, 10.
“It’s always real interesting,” Swanson said. “It’s our bonding time.”
Dianne Thompson said she brought her three sons as a fun way to spend the afternoon but also for educational reasons.
“It’s always interesting to learn about the history of Gainesville,” she said.