LAKE OF THE OZARKS, Mo. - Thousands of people will converge on the Lake of the Ozarks this weekend for the annual shootout boat race.
Already, records crowds are expected at the lake after a street parade in Laurie Wednesday night brought thousands of people to the small town. Around 80 speed boats were displayed during that event.
Officials aren't sure how many people to expect, but they are predicting as many as 100,000 people could descend on the lake this weekend.
"10,000 to 15,000 is probably a conservative number," said Sunrise Beach fire chief Dennis Reilly. "I've heard estimates of up to 100,000 people drawn into the region."
No matter how many people visit, it will be a busy weekend and the winding lake roads aren't quite made for big city-sized crowds.
"Alcohol-related accidents are always a problem for us, traffic accidents, accidents out on the boats," said Reilly.
This year's street parade was held in the Laurie city park after Lake Ozarks business owners decided not to go along with city demands. Organizers told ABC 17 News it's a great event for that side of the lake.
Emergency management officials say they will be busy, but ready for the crowds and potential problems.
"Myself and other fire chiefs work together to put together a regional action plan," said Reilly. "Using all the different agencies, we are well-prepared."
The Missouri State Highway Patrol's says that during the shootout, boating traffic will be restricted to no wake, idle speed from the 31.5-mile mark to the 36-mile mark of the main channel.
Boaters will be able to enter or exit coves blocked by the race course and will be instructed to do so by troopers or authorized event personnel.
For spectators, anchoring will be allowed in an area on the northeast side of the main channel.
For those interested in seeing the boat races but do not want to battle the crowds, the Lake of the Ozarks Shootout will air this weekend on ABC 17's sister station, FOX 22/KQFX.
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