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Jul. 2, 2020
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Activities return to LLOP

By Jane Harrison 
 
Valerie Pflug admitted to feeling “very excited” about being the torch bearer for the re-opening of Lake Lanier Olympic Park July 3. That’s when the paddle guide will lead one of the first public events at the former Olympic site since coronavirus closures began in March.
 
Her Moonlight Paddle, organized by the Lanier Canoe & Kayak Club, heralds a return of activities to the venue left mostly vacant for months. Following in her wake, the Lake Lanier Rowing Club expected to train beginning rowers in Learn to Row sessions, kayak newbies can learn to paddle, kids looked forward to fun times in LCKC’s Kayak Day Camp, and food trucks and music return to the plaza for Food Truck Friday July 10.
 
The closure silenced a season of rowing regattas, canoe/kayak Olympic trials, and community events at the park famous for drawing crowds. When Pflug leads a troupe of about 15-20 kayakers on a moonlit paddle on the Chattahoochee arm of the lake, it will likely be a calm, quiet ceremony cheered only by chirping crickets.
 
“The Moonlight Paddle is my favorite thing to do” at LLOP, Pflug said. The nighttime excursions attract not only locals, but many visitors from metro-Atlanta on their first outing on Lake Lanier. Online searches bring them for a different kind of date night or family activity. “They always have a lot of questions,” Pflug said, about animals, birds, fish, and the lake in general.
 
Led by Pflug perched high on a stand-up paddle board, participants launch LCKC single or double recreational kayaks for a venture from the LLOP boathouse docks westward toward Laurel Park. Or, Pflug might take them under Clarks Bridge for a tour to “Gilligan’s Island.” Perhaps they’ll paddle up the Chattahoochee. “It depends on the group,” Pflug said. She lets their abilities and enthusiasm determine the destination and how long the trip will last. Usually it’s an hour or two but has extended to three hours. Pflug provides a takeout opportunity at the boathouse for any who need to go home early.
 
Normally, folks can just show up for the monthly outings, but this year LCKC asks that people register in advance. The event is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. July 3 and August 7; 6:30 p.m. Sept. 4 and Oct. 2. Cost is $20 per person and free to LCKC members. See www.lckc.org.
 
A week after the first Moonlight Paddle, work weary celebrants are expected back on the plaza for the return of Food Truck Friday. LLOP Executive Director/Gainesville Tourism Director Robyn Lynch said the original plan was for double-the-fun, a Food Truck Friday combined with the annual Beach Bash. “But with (coronavirus) restrictions, we are just having the normal Food Truck Friday,” she said.
 
Friday favorite vocalist/guitarist Chad Bowmar will entertain on the lower plaza. Food and beverage trucks will line up on the upper plaza. “We are encouraging attendees to bring their own chairs and picnic blankets,” Lynch said. Guests can reserve a table for six on the grandstands for $35.
See Lakeside’s LLOP Calendar for more events.


Psoted online 6.26.20
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