As some of you may know, my husband, Gunther (AK4OC) and I, Lisa (W8LDK) and a group of committed volunteers hosted an event at Look Rock Picnic Area this past Sunday. It was a perfect fall day in the Great Smoky Mountains especially to enjoy Parks on the Air. About 60 people gathered throughout the day for food, friendship, and fun, and it was spectacular. There were three foxes made for hunting, thank you to Doug Estep (N4UAG) for organizing, and thanks to Mike Wagner (KK6OKU) and Kurt Metzler (KC4NX) for loaning us their foxes. 4 stations were setup for activations run by Mike Wagner, Mike Foley (K4MJF), Ned Swartz (K1GU), Tim Montgomery (N4TLM), as well as Gunther and myself, and a couple other folks who setup their equipment so that they could talk to attendees about their mobile rigs and how they worked. We were able to make contacts on 20 meters, 40 meters, 30 meters (CW), 10 meters, and 2 meters and the support and love from the local radio communities as well as those who found us spotted on the POTA website, was outstanding and overwhelming! I was helping at the 40 meter rig and hearing people, both local and beyond, come back to the different activators who were working to find their voices was AMAZING.
Another special thanks to Tighe Kuykendall (NK4I) and Sam Howard (KV4XY), without whose help and knowledge this event would not have been possible. These two were invaluable to Mike Wagner and myself throughout the day. Mike Wagner, Mike Foley, David Weikert (KF4DKW), and Bpb Wilson (KK4XA) helped promote this event through nets, word of mouth, and email correspondence which made the event such a large success. Gidget Wagner (not yet licensed) and Bob Wilson took photographs, and Karen Foley who was the all around perfect hostess doing whatever needed done. Thanks also to those who helped prepare food, provide direction, help, and keeping people safe around all the coax, leaves, stumps, and other forest hazards we encountered.
Of the 60 people who attended the event, 21 people activated in the park and 422 contacts were made. A couple ladies made their first radio contacts ever, and many of the 21 activators completed their very first Parks on the Air activation on this day. We are so proud to be able to share this experience with these brave souls who came out to activate.
We have learned a lot from this endeavor and hope to have another Pota-Palooza again in the Spring. If you would like to be a part of the next event or are interested in playing radio outdoors in the East Tennessee area, feel free to sign up for our Facebook page ‘Outdoor Radio Club of East Tennessee’ or if you aren’t on Facebook, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will make sure you are kept up to date of future activities. We would like to encourage and help more people get involved in mobile and outdoor radio activities even if they don’t yet have the setup to do it. The group is interested in teaching people that there are many applications for amateur radio whether you are involved in search and rescue, ‘prepping’, foxhunting, or just want to communicate with others, and you don’t have to spend a lot of money or run a ton of power to accomplish them. We want to generate discussions, learn from one another, and most of all have fun while doing it all!
I can’t forget to mention the hard work and dedication of my husband, Gunther Stoltz, who imagined the idea of Pota-Palooza last year as a way to help people who are interested in learning about Parks on the Air but didn’t quite know how to go about getting started. His passion is to help people remove barriers, either real or imagined, so they can get out and enjoy amateur radio.
A final HUGE thanks to everyone who participated in this event, either in person, by reaching out to us on the day of the event, or just by spreading the word about it. Everyone was absolutely invaluable, we couldn’t have done it without each and every one of you. We look forward to many more activities and Parks on the Air events and hope to see you on the air again soon!