Committee asks public to consider RAGBRAI volunteer opportunities

Estimated 1,000 people needed to help in a variety of ways

RAGBRAI actually stands for Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa, but over the years, it also stands for one of Iowa’s greatest assets – it’s volunteers.   As 10,000-20,000 riders bicycle across Iowa, it is the pass-through and overnight towns’ volunteers that make the event possible.   Volunteers demonstrate to our thousands of guests what Iowa really is all about – it’s people....the kind, generous, and welcoming Iowans who are eager to promote the pride we have in our state and our towns.

Of all the towns that RAGBRAI riders will pedal through this year, Clear Lake will stand out as one of the most welcoming towns because of its volunteers.  Clear Lake area residents are used to volunteering and they are used to hosting big events, but RAGBRAI volunteers really get involved.  The Steering Committee expects over 1,000 area residents to help in a variety of ways on or before July 25.   The first RAGBRAI volunteers this year were the Steering Committee and Advisory Committee members.  Since then many more area residents have signed up to help promote Clear Lake on July 25..

RAGBRAI volunteers can be involved in many ways.  There are volunteer opportunities on Monday night, on Tuesday from 6 a.m. to after midnight, and on Wednesday from 5 a.m. through noon.  There are opportunities that involve standing, sitting, and walking.  Volunteers are needed to put up and take down signage, to greet and bid farewell to our guests, and to direct traffic in the campgrounds.  Volunteers can work by themselves or as a group.  Jane Lobdell, Volunteer chairman, will assign all volunteer tasks according to the volunteer’s skills, talents, abilities, and choices.   Each volunteer can be involved as much or as little as they choose; volunteers can be assigned different tasks from 7 a.m. until midnight if they want to.

The Information Centers will welcome guests and provide directions to grocery stores, host homes, and the entertainment area.  Beverage Garden assignments will begin at 11:30 a.m. and continue until after midnight; Beverage Garden volunteers must be 21.  Over 100 volunteers will be needed in the two campgrounds on July 25 to give directions, help campers get settled, and answer questions about Clear Lake; Monday evening volunteers will create pathways and camping spots in the campgrounds.  People will volunteer at barricades downtown to make certain everyone enters the area appropriately.   One hundred seventy-five volunteers will work at perimeter stations downtown where people enter the Beverage Garden area.

One of the largest assignments will be watching intersections along the bike route on North Shore Drive from Clark Road to downtown and then again from Main Avenue to North 20th Street and from Main to the south campgrounds on 12th Avenue South.  Over 250 volunteers are needed to greet riders and keep the streets safe for visitors.  Groups, such as scouts, churches, and organizations are encouraged to take a shift at the assigned corners; individuals can volunteer too.  There are three shifts from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. and all volunteers work in pairs.  Neighborhoods are encouraged to help at corners near their homes.  It’s a fun way to work together as a neighborhood.

All RAGBRAI volunteers will be encouraged to attend training sessions in late June and early July for instructions about the tasks they are assigned.  All volunteers are asked to wear the Clear Lake RAGBRAI T-shirt while volunteering.

One unique volunteer assignment actually is a paying job.  Downtown and Campgrounds will recycle cans and bottles all day/night.  A large group can be responsible for this task, but it will require a lot of people.  Bagged cans and bottles have to be removed from the downtown area to a nearby site where a large truck (provided by the group) will gather the bags and then take them to the recycle center in Mason City.  The volunteer group can earn all the profit from the sale of the cans and bottles.  This task will begin in late morning on July 25 and will continue until the last can/bottle is removed from downtown and the campgrounds.  It is a huge responsibility, but can be very profitable for a group.   If interested in this job, please contact Chyrl Bergvig at 357-2014.

A Volunteer Form in this newspaper can be filled out and returned to Jane Lobdell (see form below).  Questions can be forwarded to Jane at 357-2676.   The Volunteer Committee will begin matching volunteers to assigned tasks soon and will continue that work until July.  For anyone interested in a specific assignment, the sooner you return the form to Jane, the better chance you have of getting that task.

The Volunteer Committee suggests that volunteering can be more fun with someone you know, so if you are interested in volunteering, consider asking a friend or family member or neighbor to join you.  Some local businesses are closing for the day and have purchased Clear Lake RAGBRAI T-shirts for their employees and are volunteering as a group on July 25.

“It will be a great day – get involved,” said Clear Lake RAGBRAI chair Diane Thompson.  “You will have a great time!”

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