Organizers of Floatzilla are kicking off their campaign for this year’s paddle, trying to create the largest raft of canoes and kayaks in the nation.
Last year, 1,648 people registered for the paddling event. Floatzilla will need 1,500 more people to beat the world record of 3,151.
“We are hoping to make this the largest paddling event in the nation,” Michael Corsiglia, River Action events manager, said. “River Action will be investing in the event more than ever before, both in terms of the variety of our approach and the total resources allocated.”
Participants must paddle their way to Lake Potter in Rock Island for the world-record attempt.
To help achieve that goal, Corsiglia said, River Action is expanding its marketing efforts, launching a new landing page, and enhancing entertainment and activities for participants and spectators.
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Floatzilla will be held Saturday, Aug. 19. The six launch sites are:
- Leach Park, Bettendorf, launch 7-11 a.m.
- Bass Street YMCA, Moline, launch 7-11 a.m.
- Lindsay Park Yacht Club, Davenport, launch 8 a.m.-noon
- Lake Potter, Rock Island, Lake only, no river paddling
- Credit Island, Davenport, launch 10 a.m.-1 p.m.
- Empire Park, East Moline, launch 7-8:30 a.m.
- Main Street, Davenport, launch 9 a.m.-noon
Paddlers launching from Lindsay Park, Empire Park and Leach Park must go through the lock. Last lock-through time is noon. Paddlers launching from the Bass Street YMCA must portage over Sylvan Island.
The river will be closed to commercial barge traffic for the event.
Floatzilla also is partnering with Alternating Currents to have live music at the Main Street Launch site in downtown Davenport and to collaborate on marketing materials to bring in out-of-towners. A free kayak fishing tournament also will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday, Aug. 18, at Credit Island in Davenport.
Mike McKean, Park Ranger for US Army Corps of Engineer, said people’s safety in the lock was the No. 1 priority. Lifejackets must be worn, zipped and clipped, and rangers and volunteers will be at the lock to help guide people in and out.
Lines will be hanging down from the walls on either side for people to hold onto if needed.
“Everything is pretty slow within the lock,” he said. “So, you shouldn’t feel too intimated by any turbulence.”
Not everyone will fit in the lock in one go, McKean said, so volunteers and rangers will be on both sides, guiding paddlers to an area where they can safely wait their turn.
Tom Bolton, who is in charge of the safety boats for the event, said the sheriff, fire and police departments from across the Quad-Cities will be placed throughout to keep the river shut down and safe for participants.
Those who wish to register for the event may do so online. It costs $30 to register through Tuesday, June 13, and after that it will increase to $35.
Jennifer Hirsch, River Action Board of Directors president, said all the proceeds from the event would go toward River Action’s mission of fostering a more prosperous river and riverfront.