Attempt to gather 2,000 canoes & kayaks off Weirs Beach set for September 7

LACONIA — The Laconia Parks Commission was told this week that ''Hands Across the Water'', an event designed to put Weirs Beach in the Guinness Book of World Records, is shaping up as a success.
''Things are coming together nicely,'' Tom O'Brien, president of the New Hampshire Lakes Association, said of that organization's plan to have more than 2,000 canoes and kayaks assemble and paddle together on Saturday, September 7 to form the world's largest raft .
''We're at the point where we're going to be bringing in an event organizer for about six weeks,'' O'Brien told the commission this week.
He said that the canoes and kayaks will be launched from a number of shoreline access points, public and private, roughly between Awka Marina to the west and Pendleton Beach to the east. Once all of the boats are assembled the 3,000 to 4,000 participants will raise their paddles, and then join hands and raft together for at least 30 seconds.
He said the event will break the current world record, set in upstate New York last summer, when 1,925 canoes and kayaks gathered at 4th Lake at Inlet, New York in a ''One Square Mile of Hope'' fundraiser for the Susan G. Komen Foundation.
A blast of the horn from the MS Mount Washington cruise ship will be sounded at 10 a.m. as the signal for the participants to paddle out to a designated area, 1,000 feet by 1,000 feet, just off from Weirs Beach, which will be surrounded by support boats..
''We'll be off the water by noon,'' said O'Brien, who said the focus will then shift to Endicott Park at Weirs Beach, where there will be educational exhibits as well as live music.
''We're not planning on having any food vendors. We want participants to do business with local establishments,'' says O'Brien.
Commissioners noted that the request for use of city facilities will go before the Laconia Special Events Committee and will be taken up by the City Council when it meets Monday night.
O'Brien said he plans to update the Parks and Recreation Commission next month on the event.
The commission was updated by Parks and Recreation Director Kevin Dunleavy on plans by Happy Tails Dog Park of Belmont for a dog park on city-owned property located between the end of Spruce Street and Growtth Road in the South End.
The commission has given conceptual approval for the dog park plan, which has also been presented to the Laconia Planning Board and will come before the City Council for discussion Monday night.
''At some point they'll be going ahead with a full-fledged design,'' said Dunleavy.
He also updated the commission on plans for repairs to the Smith Track at Opechee Park. The City Council in its budget approved in June appropriated $300,000 for repairs to the track.
Dunleavy said the contract for repairing the track has been awarded to Cape and Island Track and Tennis and that work will commence as soon as they are available, most likely in September.
He said that work will be done in two phases, with the first one being removal of the rubberized material which currently covers the track.
''They want to look at the existing asphalt first. It may need an overlay before they can do the next phase.'' said Dunleavy.
He said that the new surface will be polyurethane based but still permeable, which will allow water to be dissipated.
He said that the new surface will have an eight-year life expectancy, compared to five for the old surface and that by the time it has been resurfaced once that the underlying asphalt may need to be replaced 16 or 20 years down the road.
The six-lane, 400 meter track was installed in 1998 and refurbished in 2001, 2005 and 2011. The track has been closed since last Spring.