When an estimated 3,000 people descend upon Marietta and Don Drumm Stadium this week for the 2009 NCAA Division III Outdoor Track and Field Championships, they will likely witness the hospitality and community spirit that makes this small river town unique.
The local Noon Rotary Club was approached by organizers of the event from Marietta College about six weeks ago to volunteer a little of their time this weekend, according to Jim Peebles, club president, and they jumped at the chance.
"We were made aware of the magnitude of this event on the community and, of course, we wanted to be a part," he said.
Hurdler Jonathan Mervine of Rhodes College in Memphis, Tenn., goes through his workout Wednesday at Don Drumm Stadium.
A training session was conducted last week at the stadium for volunteers who will assist visitors with parking and getting around the event and downtown. Rotary members were joined at the session by other community volunteers.
"Food 4 Less has been so kind as to donate part of their parking lot, and we will be directing people on where to park, whether they will be shopping or attending the event," Peebles said.
Peter Keim, of Marietta, was among the attendees of the training and is proud, both as a member of the community and an alumnus of Marietta College, to be involved with the event.
If you go
What: 2009 NCAA Division III Track and Field Championships.
When: Today through Saturday.
Where: Don Drumm Stadium, Marietta College campus.
Highlights: Opening ceremony, 11:50 a.m. today; Youth Olympics and Fireworks Night, 7 to 9:30 p.m. Friday at the stadium, live music, food and games for children ages 6 to 13 with fireworks at 9:15 p.m. Event wraps up Saturday with the women's 1600 meter relay at 4:55 p.m.
Getting there: Parking is available to the public at the following lots:
Campus Police/Gathering Place, Seventh and Butler streets (120 spots).
Hermann Fine Arts, Butler Street (88 spots).
Fayerweather Hall, Butler Street (61 spots).
Food 4 Less, S. Seventh St. (100 spots).
Butler Street between Fourth and Seventh streets will be closed to traffic during the meet.
City streets surrounding the stadium will be closed to parking though the streets will be open to local travel.
Third and Fourth streets from Greene to Ohio streets will be closed to parking, as will Ohio Street from Third to Food 4 Less.
"When I was at the college, I was a member of Alpha Tau Omega and a lot of my fraternity brothers were involved in track. Some of them are even in the Hall of Fame," he said, noting that many other local alumni and members of the community have also agreed to give some of their time for this event. "The college has done a good job of reaching out to the community to get volunteers."
Another alumnus who is excited about helping with the event is Dan Jones, a local real estate broker who sits on the college's board of trustees.
"This is a big deal. It's great PR for the town and great PR for the college and that's what I am excited about," he said.
Jones is also a runner but admits that he is not competitive.
"I'm an old man," he joked.
Jones said he is content to just sit back and watch, should he get the chance this weekend.
But all kidding aside, Jones said the national championship event is good for the community's collective ego.
"I think it's probably one of the most remarkable events our community has ever had," he said.
Officials from the college are pleased with the offers of help from the community and are quick to note that the event is really a joint effort.
"Obviously putting on an event of this magnitude cannot be successful without volunteers," said Tom Perry, director of college public relations. "These people are indispensable, and we are grateful for the volunteers who are willing to give their time this weekend to make this event successful."