In an effort to engage younger people in the annual tradition of PNC Roar on the River, as well as offer some Trenton High School students some real-world experience, Rob Shannon’s marketing class was invited to help organize ad campaigns for this year’s event.
Rotary member and boat race organizer Linda Francetich had met Mr. Shannon during a multi-district advisory board meeting at the Gibraltar School District, in which she is an advisor. Teachers and other business owners, who also attended, were discussing the topic of internships and similar opportunities for high school marketing students. The boat races immediately came to mind, and she presented an offer to the schools to send their students who may be interested in a marketing experience through the PNC Roar on the River.
Shannon seized the opportunity and his class went right to work.
“To earn a grade, the class did promo radio commercials which we hope to get on the Roar’s website,” at www.trentonroaron-theriver.com, said Francetich, “and they also came up with the Embracing the Racing slogan.”
She added they did a great job, and was pleased that “they were bringing in a new generation of ideas to the boat race,” which she said is a crowd the event would love to engage more of.
In addition, a dunk tank has been added to the many scheduled events at Elizabeth Park this year from July 18-20. Next year, they are hoping to add beach volleyball, among some other mini events.
Other new additions to this year’s event include boat buck coupon books, available on the weekend of the event for $10 and in advance at some of the locations where Taste of the Races tickets are available: Jocks & Associates at 3630 West Road, at Dot Com Web Productions at 2836 W. Jefferson Ave., and at Mans Lumber & Millwork at 3300 W. Jefferson Ave. Tickets for the Taste of the Races on Friday night, $25 in advance, are also available at Trenton City Hall at 2800 Third St.
Rotary also is organizing a guest bartender night, which will be a contest between the Trenton Fire Departments and Trenton Rotary to see who can bring in the most tips for the night.
Proceeds from this event as well as the coupon books will help fund the anti-bullying efforts, such as Black-out Bullying Week, that have become a tradition across Trenton schools.
However, the Fire Department will have more involvement in the weekend than that, though in a more round-about way: Passport to Nowhere, a band that features Chief Jeff Evans as drummer and specializes in classic rock, will play on Friday night.
That happens to be Pirate Night, the kickoff party that has a personality in which Jack Sparrow would feel at home.
“It should be a lot of fun,” Evans said with an evident sense of excitement, “It’s always fun to be outdoors, and it should be a great crowd. That Friday night is always a good time and a good mood.”
“We’re looking forward to a crowd that is ready for music and dancing.”
They will take the stage at around 6:30 p.m., warming up the jovial crowd that probably won’t need much direction for Fifty Amp Fuse, a band that doesn’t need much introduction in the area.
For those unaware, though, the band is a nine-member ensemble that plays music across six decades of pop and rock hits with accompanying video and lights.
On Saturday, the weekend’s races begin at noon, though testing starts earlier. Fred Miller, racing coordinator, said he figures Chris Fairchild or Jimmie Merleau to be the favorites, but on the water at speeds exceeding 110 mph for the bigger SST 200 class anything can happen, and anyone stands a chance.
Miller once said that the smaller SST 45 class, which can exceed 80 mph, attract a younger, less sane type of driver.
If you look over the roster of drivers, you may find some names have been around for a while, and Miller explained that this is because racing the tunnel boats is often a family affair.
Part of it is financial and having the equipment around to practice at a young age (he compared it to taking up hockey in Trenton), but part of it he explained as related to the river and thinking of the water as a place of recreation.
“When I was younger, the river was huge in our lives,” Miller said. “It was where we went to do things. The Detroit River. That was a big deal! So, for these people, that’s how they see it.”
In a time where there are innumerable things competing for the attention of people, especially that younger crowd Francetich speaks of, the event is a great way to get in touch with one of the resources that can be overlooked as a recreational opportunity.
The races are Saturday and Sunday, as always, with the awards ceremony closing the weekend’s events at 5 p.m. Sunday.
However, no one should overlook Saturday night as the chance to get out, enjoy the beautiful weather (knock on wood!), listen to music and have a great night.
Beginning at 5:30 p.m., Remedy Detroit will take the stage, a group with a wide genre range and great interaction with the audience. Karin Elizabeth, once an opera singer, now belts out tunes accompanied by her play of an electric violin. The result is a fresh feel to favorite standards.
At 7 p.m., Justine Blazer will take the stage. A Nashville artist originally from Detroit and winner of the Ram Truck Battle of the Bands, her voice crosses smooth soul with twang in a sound that hits the sweet spot between country and rock. She now works tirelessly on the road, writing new material while entertaining audiences across the country.
The night is rocked out by Category 5, which is scheduled to take the stage at 9 p.m. Together for six years, the band delights audiences with the soaring acoustics of arena rock wherever they can find an amp. The group loves to entertain, and their high-energy performance is contagious to audiences.
Kevin Davis, guitarist for the band, said that as far as music goes, “We like to have a mix of stuff that is fun to play and that we enjoy listening to. All of us have a say, but we keep in mind that we want to entertain and make sure people have a good time on their night out.”
As far as playing outside, this is Category 5’s fourth appearance at the Roar, thanks to the great relationship they have with the Rotary. However, he said the band has a joke that “we kind of jinxed ourselves with our name; we say only we could bring rain to the desert.”
With some luck, the weather won’t be on their mind that night. More seriously, Davis adds, “It’s always a fun time to play outdoors, because you get more people, and a more diverse group. In most clubs, it’s 21 and over, so at these events kids get to come, and that makes it more enjoyable.”
The best part is that all of these shows and the races are free to audiences, with only the Taste of the Races event requiring a paid ticket to partake.
After such a night, attendees can be sure to wake up with sore throats from singing or sore feet from dancing, or maybe both, and Sunday take in the traditional pancake sausage breakfast of Boy Scout Troop 1721 from 7-11 a.m. to help recoup. Rest easy, pirate partiers: this is also available on Saturday morning.
If you wanted more, the weekend has it. As every year, the Children’s Fun Fair and Typhoon Tommy Jet Ski Shows will return to entertain children and audiences between races. Plenty of refreshments and concessions will be available all weekend for visitors.
And though the Rotary couldn’t promise anything as of the time of publishing, if fundraising efforts go successfully and the weather cooperates, the fireworks on Saturday night could even make a return.
Regardless, the weekend is sure to be a blast, highlighting some of the jewels of Trenton in a way anyone can enjoy.
The event is free to attend the entire weekend, unless you want the tasty delights at the Taste of the Races Friday night party.
Parking for the event will be available at three locations with a free shuttle running to and from the park at Kennedy Recreation Center, at Trenton High School and at Trenton City Hall. Parking also is directly accessible within the park for a requested $5 donation. For more information on the weekend, please check out the Website or get updates via the Facebook page at www.facebook.com/roarontheriver.