Nancy Walther, the national park’s former chief of resource education, said the community flotation event attracted 625 watercraft riders last year.
In addition, helpers lent a hand at the Morgan Falls Dam launch site, along the six-mile route and at journey’s end.
“Student Conservation Association and Greening Youth [Foundation] interns and park volunteers assisted in safely launching participants’ rafts, canoes and kayaks,” Walther said in a statement. “Patrol boats quietly motored up and down this section of river to ensure safety and were assisted by experienced park volunteers who provided information and water when needed. At the Powers Island finish, park volunteers and local area Boy Scouts assisted folks in removing their watercraft from the river, and then up the wide access steps.”
Fresh, dry T-shirts awaited the travelers, along with a variety of amusements.
“Participants could purchase food, view related exhibits and listen to live music as a way to wind down and enjoy the day’s festivities,” Walther said. “Children enjoyed activities such as face painting and the Bubble Creation station, led by the Bubble Fairy.”
They also got a chance to compare notes on their voyages. “Many folks were treated to the vision of ospreys circling overhead, red-tailed hawks calling from the forested ridges or a large trout leaping from the cool water,” Walther said. “While afternoon showers cooled the near-record temperatures, spirits could not be dampened.”
Kym Hughes, executive director of the event’s promoter, Sandy Springs Hospitality and Tourism, said a new food vendor, Dickey’s Barbecue Pit, will be added to a list of ingredients participants always find refreshing.
“Every experience on the Chattahoochee offers something new,” she said. “From scenery to serenity, it changes daily.”
Hughes’ staff members attend the event and a test-float the month before, getting a satisfying return on their investment of time.
“Feedback from attendees is always the reward,” Hughes said. “Every year people say that they will be back and will bring their friends.”
The event began in 2008 as a means to inspire guests to enjoy the river, which is up to 300 feet deep and 200 feet wide.
“It is an amazing resource that should not be overlooked,” Hughes said.
If you go
What: fifth annual Summer Splash
When: July 28 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Where: Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area
Cost: free but registration is required
Information: (678) 538-1280 or http://1.usa.gov/MwlOL8