Lake Lanier will soon see its largest international event since the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games, and the community is stepping in to help welcome more than 1,000 athletes from around the world.
The International Canoe Federation World Dragon Boat Championships have previously been held in Russia, Poland, Italy and Hungary. This year, they are coming to the Americas for the first time, and the 29 athletes from Team USA who are from the Lanier Canoe and Kayak Club won’t have to travel far. The venue for the event is Lake Lanier Olympic Park in Gainesville.
The championships are Sept. 12 through 16, and rowers will start practicing on the lake on Sept. 9.
Volunteer Coordinator Kingsley Peeples said more volunteers are still needed to help the event run smoothly.
Volunteers will be picking up athletes from the airport, transporting them between their hotels and the park, prepping boats between races and helping with parking at the venue. Both morning and afternoon shifts are available, Peeples said.
Also, on the morning of Sept. 9, organizers need volunteers to help get the boats in the water so athletes can start practicing.
Robyn Lynch, executive director of Lake Lanier Olympic Park, said 200 volunteers have signed up as of Tuesday. Organizers have been planning for three years, she said, and she has enjoyed seeing the community, local government and businesses come together to prepare.
“Everybody has just been phenomenal in supporting us and giving us whatever it is that we need to make this event great. … We have volunteers from across the spectrum, from community leaders to employees of companies to retirees to civic groups. A lot of people have stepped in to help us,” Lynch said.
Volunteer Lisa Duetemeyer said she signed up to help out because her children go to the Lanier Canoe and Kayak Club, and she has enjoyed seeing other dragon boat events in the past. The Atlanta Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival also comes to Lake Lanier Olympic Park each year.
“It’s beautiful and it’s graceful and it’s kind of exciting to watch, just to see who is going to cross that finish line first,” she said.
To sign up to volunteer, go to the championships website.
World Dragon Boat Championships schedule
Team arrivals and practice: Sept. 9-11
Opening ceremonies: 6 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 12 at Lake Lanier Olympic Park, 3105 Clarks Bridge Road, Gainesville
Racing events: Sept. 13-16
Closing ceremonies: 7 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 16 on the Smithgall Arts Center Lawn, 331 Spring Street, Gainesville
How much: Parking at Lanier Olympic Park will be $10, racing events and opening ceremonies are free, closing ceremonies are $20 per person
More information: lanierdragonboat2018.com