What to expect at Boatnik with festivities kicking off on Thursday

GRANTS PASS, Ore. – Boatnik is right around the corner.

The longstanding memorial day weekend tradition will happen this year, despite Riverside Park closing next week.

“Don’t believe everything you read on social media,” Grants Pass Active Club president Tim Low. “Boatnik is happening, full schedule of events, family is safe, it’s happening.”

On Thursday, the city of Grants Pass announced the park will be closed to the public beginning May 24.

This comes after a man was shot and killed at the park last weekend.

The city said more and more incidents pose a risk to public health and safety.

“We’re going to do some environmental hazard cleanup and we will close it to all patrons,” Grants Pass city manager Aaron Cubic said. “This will provide an opportunity for us to spruce up the parks.”

The park will be closed until June 22, that is aside from Boatnik.

The multi-day event kicks off on Thursday.

The community tradition is put on by the Grants Pass Active Club with proceeds going toward helping Josephine County youth.

The five day event features a carnival, concerts, vendors, boat races, fireworks, a parade and more.

“Boatnik is 100% on,” GP Active Club advertising chairman Jim Thompson. “We’re really excited about this year and again we’ll have a full carnival, we normally have one concert, this year we have two. Normally we have three boat races, this year we have four. Marathon is back this year.”

This year, it will feature a *full slate of events… For the first time since 20-19… Due to the pandemic.

The active club said over 70,000 people from across the state are expected to attend.

Grants Pass Police Department and the sheriff’s office will be out in full force next week.

“They clear out anybody and anything that we need removed,” Thompson said. “Any time you come to Boatnik, you’re going to see police walking around. You’re going to see sheriffs walking around. We’ve never had anything big, but we’ve had a few little things and believe we take security very seriously.”

Again, Boatnik will take place starting Thursday, at Riverside Park.

There will be no changes because of the park closure.

Boatnik is free with charges for some activities.

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NBC5 News reporter Zachary Larsen grew up in Surprise, Arizona. He graduated from Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism. At ASU, Zack interned at Arizona Sports 98.7FM and Softball America. During his Junior year, Zack joined the ASU Sports Bureau. He covered the Fiesta Bowl, the Phoenix Open and major basketball tournaments. Zack enjoys working out, creative writing, music, and rooting for his ASU Sun Devils.
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