Saturday, May 10, 2014

Forgotten Coast Paddle Jam 2014 slated to draw thousands

Local pastor Themo Patriotis appeared before the Apalachicola Board of City Commissioners at their May 6, regular scheduled monthly meeting to brief the commission on events surrounding the Forgotten Coast Paddle Jam 2014 scheduled in Apalachicola and St. George Island for the weekend of May 16-18.

From the onset Patriotis told commissioners that he wanted to be a bridge in the community and that the event would feature paddle sports, live local music, local food and vendors and that all proceeds would be used to help at risk children, youth and families in need through the Outreach Ministries of the ASGI Cooperative Parish.

Patriotis also informed the council that event organizers are attempting to set a new Guinness Book of World Record for the largest floating gathering of kayaks and canoesto assemble in one place and if successful, the record would become synonymous with the City of Apalachicola. The current record was set in Inlet, N.Y., in September 2011where 1,902 kayaks and canoes assembled on Fourth Lake.  

Over 2,000 plus kayakers are expected to participate in the local event and when taking into consideration their entourage of family, friends and supporters, the organizers are expecting thousands to emerge upon Apalachicola and while here, could potentially mean an economic boost to our economically challenged area.

The kayakers will put-in mostly at the Battery Park Marina launch area, which will make necessary the temporary closure of the marina to accommodate the event and that didn’t sit quite well with some residents in attendance at the meeting.  

Some voiced concerns over whether the owners of houseboats docked inside the marina would have access to their boats during the event and others expressed concerns over what security measures would be put in place to ensure the safety of the kayakers and their property.

However, the main concerns centered on how the temporary closure would impact the ability of local guide and commercial fishermen from launching from the marina during the event.

At the end of the nearly 40 minute at times testy discussion, Patriotis amply demonstrated his desire to become a bridge when he agreed to work with City Administrator Betty Webb to address all concerns.