FLOATZILLA: Breaking Records, Paddling, Fun

The biggest paddle festival on the Mississippi River takes place here in the Quad Cities and it’s called FLOATZILLA. The name alone should make you want to participate, but the food, fun and a world record attempt should definitely draw you in for a fantastic annual event in mid-August.

What is Floatzilla?

The largest paddling event on the Mississippi River where hundreds of people and over 1,000 kayaks and canoes come together to try to break the world record for the Largest Raft of Canoes/Kayaks or the Largest Flotilla of Person-Powered Crafts.

Boats launch from throughout the area, paddle the river, and then meet up at Lake Potter near the Sunset Marina in Rock Island to try to set a world record. It’s a day of fun with other paddle crafts on the Mississippi River.

Who does Floatzilla involve?
The event is hosted by River Action. Anyone with a paddle craft is invited to participate. If you don’t have a water craft, there are a variety of outfitters who will also work with you at the specific launch points and provide you with a boat for the event.While all are welcome, only non-inflatable kayaks and canoes count for the World Record attempt. Paddlers of all ages join together for a fun day on the river. Everyone is expected to wear a Coast Guard approved personal flotation device.

People come prepared to have fun. From decorated boats to costumed paddlers, the mood on the river is one of pure delight. Young and old throw balls around, shoot water guns, pass the food, and drink and soak up the sun.

There are also a boatload (haha) of volunteers needed, so if you’re not interested in paddling during Floatzilla but want to be involved, check out the volunteer opportunities.

When is Floatzilla?
August 17, 2019

The group picture and world record attempt is at Lake Potter at 2:00 p.m.
The Guinness World Record breaking attempt will take place at 2:30 p.m.
You should plan to be at the lake no later than 1:30 p.m.
River Action has a great list of suggested launch times, most between 8:00 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. The overwhelming suggestion is launch early so you don’t miss the main event! There are a number of other events at Lake Potter before the photo and record attempt, as well.

Where is Floatzilla?

Boaters can launch from a number of places throughout the Quad Cities and head to Lake Potter in Rock Island for the main event.
Records you should know about:
2019 will be “The 10th Annual Paddlesports Celebration on the Mississippi River”
The current record for Largest Raft of Canoes/Kayaks is: 3,150

How do you register?
Cost is $30 (through 8/14) , $35 (through 8/16)
You can register online.
You’ll get a t-shirt, commemorative boat sticker, registration wrist band, free parking and use of the shuttle bus.
Jamie Nelson, Eric Anderson and their two boys, Quinn and Wythe love participating in Floatzilla.

“What I enjoyed about Floatzilla was having safe passage to paddle a small boat across the Mississippi (they suspended barge traffic and had Coast Guard and local fire depts out on the river) which you can’t usually do. Then, there is the camaraderie of all the boats mushed together in the marina, trying to get the count of how many are there, and it’s a big party – some rowdy, some just friendly,” explains Jamie Nelson from Chicago, IL.

Eric Anderson who served as executive director of the River Bend Wildland Trust in the Quad Cities has participated in Floatzilla for years. Here, he is preparing the watermelon paddlers shared while waiting to lock through at the Arsenal Bridge.

Rock Island native, Kai Swanson (pictured at the top with his son, Evan) has a lot to say about the QC experience that is Floatzilla: “It’s an extremely fun way to support all the good work of River Action in our community! If you’re paddling alone, you soon won’t be. Folks are friendly and it’s a nice way to meet people with similar interests. You’ll see folks you know from other contexts.

“I enjoy the time it creates for my son and me to be on the water under our own power – an experience I shared with my dad when I was young. My favorite part is creating memories with my spouse and my kids that I’ll have for the rest of my life. Something happens to you when you’ve got a paddle in your hands and your head’s just a couple of feet off the waterline. Serenity!”

So, grab your paddle and your friends and head out to Lake Potter to break a world record!
#FloatTheQC #Floatzilla2019


About the author

Meghan Cooley Meghan Cooley moved to the Quad Cities from St. Charles, IL, as an Augustana College student over 20 years ago. She left briefly after graduation and then returned to work in admissions and then marketing at Augustana College for 18 years. She now works as a consultant for admissions marketing and social media. She also does copy editing and writes for the Quad City Moms Blog. Now a true Quad Cities transplant, Meghan lives in Rock Island with her husband, Luke (R.O.W.V.A. and Augustana grad and Modern Woodmen employee) and four boys. She loves living in the Quad Cities and finds it the perfect place to raise a family, plan a date night, and go on adventures.

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