LAKE GEORGE - While the village of Lake George has seen an intriguing variety of events over the years, a new one is likely to occur this summer on the shores of the lake - beach pole vaulting.
Within a month, athletes of both genders will likely be hurtling themselves through the air - as high as 17 feet - and tumbling onto a popular beach, while hundreds of spectators cheer them on.
A duo of track coaches are seeking to bring a public pole vaulting competition to Shepard Park beach this summer, and village board members endorsed the concept at a special meeting May 26.
The competition would offer a visual spectacle for crowds on the beach and nearby pier at Shepard Park, event organizer Dennis Hogan said Monday.
"It will offer thrills for spectators, both visitors and locals," said Hogan, a former track coach at Ballston Spa High School. He and Don Peretta, a pole vault coach at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, are organizing the competition.
Both were in Lake George recently, talking to Mayor Blais about the competition, walking over Shepard Park Beach, reviewing how much room they might need.
Hogan said he owns a platform pole-vault setup with a cushioned fall zone.
He said all that needs to be accomplished to make the pole-vault event a reality in Lake George is sanctioning by USA Track and Field authorities for insurance purposes, and official approval by the Lake George Village Board.
He said experienced pole vaulters from around the U.S. have expressed interest in participating, and up to 125 competitors - would be involved.
Lake George Chamber of Commerce Interim president Michael Consuelo said this week that the event is expected to include Olympic hopefuls, and seasoned college athletes, as well as top high school pole vaulters. Hogan said the event would likely also include an open class.
Hogan said the closest outdoor pole-vaulting competition open to all competitors is now held in New Jersey, and an event in upstate New York hosted by Lake George would be a popular attraction for both competitors and athletes.
"There are a whole group of athletes that will be so excited to come to Lake George," he said.
Hogan said that he was looking ahead to summer 2012 and beyond for repeat pole-vaulting events in Lake George, predicting that up 350 athletes would be participating in future years.
Hogan and Consuelo said that for each athlete attending, three to seven others would be coming to Lake George, probably staying the weekend - which means revenue for local businesses as well as Warren County.
"As a unique and different new event, this is the type of thing we are looking for," Consuelo said.
Lake George Mayor Robert Blais also expressed enthusiasm for the event.
"We hope the plans go through, and we anticipate that it will be a welcome addition to our summer events here," he said.