Volunteers needed to help 700 visiting cyclists

Published 11:55 pm Sunday, January 25, 2009

By Staff
Cycle North Carolina bringing spring eventto Washington, again
Contributing Editor
What does a city need when about 700 bicyclists visit for three days? Volunteers, and plenty of them.
The Washington Tourism Development Authority is seeking volunteers to help the city host Cycle North Carolina’s Spring Weekend Ride to the Heart of the Inner Banks, coming to Washington the weekend of April 17-19. Among the duties volunteers will perform are greeting bicyclists, conducting guided tours of the city’s historic district and manning rest stops for bicyclists taking tours of the county.
The bicyclists will use Washington as a base as they select from several routes on which to ride that weekend.
Lewis said having the bicyclists in the city for three days provides opportunities for area nonprofit groups to hold fundraisers while they are here. The WTDA wants area nonprofit organizations to sign up to sell breakfasts, plated meals and concession-type foods.
In 2005, the previous time the city hosted the Spring Weekend Ride, groups like the Washington Kiwanis, Christian Men’s Fellowship at Washington’s First Christian Church and the Friends of the Patrick Cochran Memorial Skatepark participated, Lewis said. About 515 bicyclists visited the city that spring.
Feeding the bicyclists provides opportunities for nonprofit groups, church groups and other organizations to raise money for their projects, Lewis said.
The WTDA got in on the concession business in 2005, selling breakfast items to bicyclists who camped on the grassy area adjacent to the Bobby Andrews Recreation Center on East Seventh Street. Those items included biscuits from King Chicken.
Rebecca Franks, owner of A Slice of Heaven in downtown Washington, is anxious for the bicyclists to return to the city.
Gary Tomasulo, president of the Historic Downtown Washington Merchants Association, said the bicyclists’ presence in the city during economic hardship for some businesses will be a welcome one.
Some of the bicyclists want to rent private homes for the weekend, but there has been no success in finding that type of lodging, Lewis said. Anyone interested in renting a home to bicyclists should call the Washington Visitor Center, Lewis said.
Other bicyclists will be camping out in the green space along the waterfront promenade between the North Carolina Estuarium and the former Maola building. Some bicyclists will “camp” indoors at the Washington Civic Center. Others will stay at area lodging establishments, which will please area innkeepers, Lewis said.
The event’s headquarters will be set up at the Civic Center, where shower trucks for the camping cyclists will be located, according to Lewis.
The WTDA also wants to provide entertainment for the bicyclists, Lewis said. It’s receiving some assistance on that front. The first installment of the 2009 Music in the Streets season is set for April 17. The bicyclists may get to observe some aerial acrobatics on the city’s waterfront.
When Lewis told the City Council in November the event was returning to Washington, she said the ride organizers were excited about the possibility of a proposed trapeze school on the Washington waterfront being up and running while the bicyclists are in Washington. Earlier this month, the Council approved the school to set up on the waterfront temporarily.
If you or your organization has an interest in any of the above opportunities, contact the Washington Visitor Center at (252) 948-9415 or by e-mail at visitus@originalwashington.com. To learn more about the event, visit www.cyclenorthcarolina.org.