More than a thousand volunteers help Riverbend run smoothly

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WDEF) — Music Festival season is in full force.

Here in Chattanooga we have one, in our very own backyard – the Riverbend Festival is underway.

Many took the stage Saturday, including the well-known Ludacris.

But, one very important piece to keeping this musical fun all together would be the many volunteers.

Bill Leahy has been volunteering at the Riverbend Festival for several years.

“I want, I wanted to be a part of it. It’s something in me that I just wanted to be a part of it,” says Leahy.

This week you can catch him at the Main Gate.

The gate he helped put together for the event.

“It’s like herding cats sometimes. You’ve got fifty thousand people trying to get in and I want to make them comfortable to get them through as fast as I can as happy as I can,” Leahy continues.

His role as Volunteer Supervisor at the gate means bag checking and getting folks through and into the festival.

“Everybody gets scanned in, we get their bags checked, weapons checks we’ve gotta do that too and just overall questions there’s a lot of you know people come in and they’ve never been here before, they don’t know what’s going on, kind of help them out,” he says.

He’s one of 1,182 people, from ages 18 to 90, volunteering their time to make sure the festival runs smoothly.

“If you didn’t have volunteers you couldn’t make this festival affordable and some of the volunteers that’s the only way they can come, and some are trying to get volunteer hours in for schools and there are many different reasons why they volunteer, but everyone is important,” says Gina Ortiz.

Ortiz is the Volunteer Coordinator for the Festival.

She says each volunteer is required to work two five hour shifts, and there are 75 different volunteer positions.

“We have everything from ambassadors, hospitality, we have runners. we have scanners, we used to call them handshakers, and now they are just wristband scanners,” Ortiz adds.

Each Volunteer gets into the festival for free, they get VIP parking, souvenir discounts, and a cruise on the southern bell.

As for Leahy, he says it’s Gina and the way she handles the volunteers is what keeps him coming back every year.

You can apply to volunteer for next years event in March.


Categories: Chattanooga, Local News

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