Grab your paddles, Floatzilla is back in a big way.
While it’s no Guinness World Record, event organizers say around 1,700 kayaks made it into the Mississippi River this year, the most ever in the 12 year history of Floatzilla. And as time passes, that record could keep growing, as more and more people are making Floatzilla a family tradition.
“There’s people that collect the stickers every year, you get to see them on the boats,” said Noah Truesdell, the organizer of Floatzilla. “People love doing it, you know? It’s a tradition now.”
Plus, more people are joining for their first years. Todd Allison, his wife and their two dogs are spending their last year stationed at the Rock Island Arsenal in the Quad Cities, and they had to come do Floatzilla at least once before moving away.
“We’ve seen the Floatzilla come by the last two years, and this is really our last year to be here, so we said we’re going to do it,” said Allison. “The dogs said they wanted to come, so we suited them up and we really enjoyed it, went through the lock and it was really awesome.”
Furthermore, others aren’t only joining Floatzilla for the first time, they might be getting in a kayak altogether for the first time. Nicholas Johnson, a behavior specialist at Arrowhead Ranch in Coal Valley, Illinois, said he wanted to treat some of the teens in his program to a day on the water.
“Seeing these kids do something that they’re not really used to… a lot of these kids are from Chicago, Rockford, so to see them kayaking, jumping in the water, playing, acting like, you know, kids … really rewarding, a lot of fun, I’ve been getting out there with them kayaking,” Johnson said.
At the end of the day around 2:30 p.m., the estimated 1,700 kayakers all joined together in Lake Potter for the annual Floatzilla photo.