Expect a lot of people on the Chattahoochee River Saturday for the grand opening Of Whitewater Columbus. Everyone is getting ready for the big day.
Close to 400 trips have already booked for Saturday and 100 each on Sunday and Monday. There will be extra rafts on Saturday so walk-ins are welcome.
There will be a lot of first responders on-hand in case of emergency. They are currently under-going last-minute training exercises.
On Saturday, 10 officers will be patrolling Uptown, the bike patrol will be riding on the RiverWalk and two lifeguards will be on the river. There will also be rescue crews on the river in kayaks, flanking the course. On Thursday rescue crews were on the water practicing some rescue techniques.
"My guys are out here training on pretty much how to rescue distressed swimmers, how to operate with their watercraft," said LT Brad Hicks with the Muscogee County Sheriff's Office and Department of Homeland Security.
A small, five-member team from the sheriff's office will be patrolling the river on Saturday because of Whitewater and a boating race. They will have a pontoon boat and two jet skis ready to support the fire department downstream, if needed. "Our primary mission is going to be pretty much from the trade center, from the railroad tracks... down to the Oglethorpe Bridge
The city is also ready. A month ago, the boat ramp at the end of the course was caving in, but now it is brand new.
Hotels rooms are almost at capacity. "We're experiencing what we call a city-wide sell-out," said Peter Bowden, president and CEO of the Columbus Trade and Tourism Bureau. He said that is because of numerous tournaments, graduations and Whitewater happening this weekend. Bowden anticipated it will all have a $1 million tourism impact on the area.
"We're seeing tons of calls so far and as the week has progressed we even gotten more, so the intensity and the interest in Whitewater has really began to explode on us," Bowden said.
The opening ceremony will start at 10 AM and rafts will run until about 8 PM.
Tickets cost $32.50 during low-flow $48.50 during high-flow. To make a reservation call 1800-676-7238.