What to expect on Lake Lanier, roads this long weekend

May 25—Whether it's floating on the lake or moving to the rhythmic strains of a cover band, there's a raft of activities primed across Hall County as folks gear up for Memorial Day weekend.

Meteorologist with the National Weather Service Vaughn Smith said that while there's around a 50% chance of showers Saturday and Sunday, he expects the rain to relent and skies partially clear of overcast by Monday.

"There's nothing really that significant going on through the weekend, you might get a few showers Saturday and Sunday — but for the actual Memorial Day, you're looking at highs right around 80 (degrees) and maybe about a 20% chance of showers...it's going to be a little muggy but not too bad."

With gas prices averaging $3.25 a gallon — 88 cents below the $4.13 state average this time last year — AAA spokesperson Montrae Waiters said her organization estimates more than 1.1 million Georgians will be hitting the roads for Memorial Day.

President and CEO of Discover Lake Lanier Stacey Dickson said officials estimate several hundred thousand people on Lake Lanier over the Memorial Day weekend, so families planning a day on the water should expect company.

With crowds of people likely flooding the shoreline, Dickson said a new water taxi is available for those who decide not to rent a boat. The boat service seats up to 10 people and will chauffeur visitors to and from destinations around the lake throughout the day.

"You can catch it and hop on and hop off," she said. "You could actually ride somewhere, have a meal, get back on the boat and ride back to wherever you picked it up, so that's new and exciting and a great way for people to access the water that might not have another way to do that."

Among an array of activities offered at Lanier, Dickson said Margaritaville at Lanier Islands now has a revamped kiddie pool area — all new fountains and mini-slides for younger children, as well as an improved wave pool and a waterslide attraction converted from the park's snow tubing slide.

Dickson advises the public to remain vigilant when they're on or near the water and encourages people of all ages to take advantage of life jackets and floatation devices available at various sharing stations around Lanier.

"We're always wanting to remind everybody to be smart and safe when they're on or near the water," she said. "Even if you don't have a personal floatation device, you can borrow one at the park — adults and children. We want everybody to wear their floatation devices when they're in the lake for optimum safety."

For anyone staying around the Gainesville area, Director of Tourism Robyn Lynch said the Midland Music Fest will take place Saturday night on the Midland Greenway in downtown Gainesville, with bluegrass/funk-jazz band CardBoard Willie performing at 6 p.m. and Fleetwood Mac tribute band Rumors taking the stage at 8 p.m.

A Memorial Day parade for folks looking to observe the federal holiday in its truest sense will be held at 10 a.m. Monday, with the procession starting at First Baptist Church of Gainesville before continuing down Green Street and E.E. Butler Parkway and then onto Spring Street toward the terminus at the Bank of America building.

Starting Friday at 6 p.m., Waiters said AAA is again offering a tow-to-go program to keep impaired drivers off the road.

By calling 855-286-9246, AAA will provide both members and non-members rides and a tow of their vehicle to a secure destination within a 10-mile radius of where they're picked up.

"We do ask that (the service) be a last resort," Waiters said. "We do want you to make plans for a safe ride home in advance. We only say that because, of course, we're going to be running our service for stranded members during that Memorial Day holiday, too."

The service will be available at no cost through the holiday weekend until 6 a.m. Tuesday, May 30.