GAINESVILLE, Ga. (July 20, 2021) – The Gainesville community will soon celebrate one of the proudest moments in City history – the 25th anniversary of the 1996 Summer Olympics, which Gainesville played host to for the rowing and sprint canoe/kayak events.
To mark the occasion, a celebration of Olympic-sized proportions is in the works, which includes the Porch to Torch 5K and Fun Run, slated for 8-10 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 7, at City Park. The 5K will precede an official Olympic Celebration, slated for 6-10 p.m. Aug. 7 at Lake Lanier Olympic Park.
“The front porch has long been recognized as representing the ideals of family, community and hospitality,” said Katie Dubnik, event organizer. “A transitional space between the privacy of home and the community outside, front porches bring neighborhoods and communities together – stories are told and dreams are imagined. In 1996, our community opened our front porch hospitality to the world for the Olympic Games. Now, 25 years later, you are invited to step off your porch and come together as we celebrate the legacy of the Olympic Games in our community and reignite the Olympic message of peace, friendship, unity and excellence. Channel your inner athlete and join us Saturday, Aug. 7, for the Porch to Torch 5K/1-mile fun run where, just like in the Olympics, the essential thing is not to have won, but to have fought well.”
Proceeds from the Porch to Torch 5K will benefit the Lake Lanier Olympic Park Foundation.
“The events on Aug. 7 will help remind the community of the impact that the 1996 Olympic Games made on our community,” said Gainesville Tourism Director Robyn Lynch. “Aside from the obvious economic impact that the games made in 1996, the Olympic park continues to bring in an average $5 million impact annually. In addition, this is a time for our community to recognize the contributions of the legacy clubs, Lanier Canoe and Kayak Club and Lake Lanier Rowing Club, for their commitment to continue the legacy of training world-class athletes. Finally, these events help the Lake Lanier Olympic Park Foundation in continuing the mission of the organization – creating an atmosphere at Lake Lanier Olympic Park that continues to make the facility a sought-after venue for families and special events.”
After stepping off from City Park, 5K participants will continue east through the Northeast Georgia History Center and Brenau University campus, following parts of the original torch path. The course is an out and back, and chip timed.
“We will be kicking off the race recognizing a group of torch bearers from Hall County,” Dubnik said. “They will be leading the race as the pace car in the Gainesville Trolley.”
Not into cross-country running as much as you are the Olympic spirit? Other activities will also be on hand for the community to enjoy, to include “Olympic” games like a 100-yard dash, ring toss and hula-hoop contest, among other activities, plus an Olympic village for kids and families.
“We will have a winners’ platform photo booth, Gainesville Parks and Recreation will help kids make their own torch and Gainesville City staff will be videoing community members’ Olympic stories/memories,” Dubnik said. “We will have the Gainesville High School Jumbotron playing a slideshow of photos from the ‘96 games, community partners will be displaying Olympic memorabilia and Olympic fun facts, and we plan to have Kona Ice on site.”
The cost to register is $30, which includes a free 5K T-shirt. The cost for children under 18 years of age is $20. Participants may register in advance through the day of the event here. Several awards will be distributed to overall winners and winners in various age categories.