County offers chances to walk, paddle
This Labor Day about 2,000 canoes and kayaks will converge on the water at Suttons Bay to set a new world record and to raise a whole lot of money for the Suttons Bay school district. That’s the goal, at least, said Kate Thornhill, who has been busy planning the event.
Late registration is taking place from 6-9 p.m. Friday or from 8:30-11:30 a.m. Saturday at Suttons Bay High School. On Friday night people can even leave their boats at the school, as volunteers will take them to Marina Park, where security will be on hand to watch them all night.
Cost is $20 for a one-person canoe or kayak; $27 for two people. Only boaters who are registered for the event will be counted.
Two methods of counting must be submitted to the Guinness Book of World Records to make the record legitimate — if one is set. One method is to have all boats go through a roped-off corral on the water in which two people will count the boats at the corral’s entrance and exit. The corral will be located by the main marina. The second method is to have aerial photographs done, which will be sent to Guinness to be blown up for them to do their own count.
It takes a few months for the count to be certified, Thornhill said.
The official count is at 1 p.m., when all participating canoes and kayaks must form one giant float. They must do it without being tied together, and they must float without touching shore or bottom for 30 full seconds, according to the Guinness website.
Boaters will also participate in two paddle waves, where at a specified time each canoer and kayaker will raise their paddle in the air and wave. One wave will be done to honor three local people who died recently: 15-year-old Logan McDonough, who died in a car accident in September; David Dickerson, who died in April while canoing; and Allee Romeo, who died in June of meningitis.
“When Logan and Allee died it affected all of the kids in all of the schools,” Thornhill said. “It affected the whole community. We thought it would be a nice way to honor them.”
The second wave will be done while aerial photographers are flying over so the paddles can later be counted.
The event will also include music and food and merchandise vendors. And boaters don’t have to be in the water the entire day, she said. They can put their boats in early, leave them and hang out at the beach or in town.
Thornhill, who has been working with about 150 volunteers to get the event in the water, got the idea from a friend who participated in the event that set the current record for the World’s Largest Raft of Canoes and Kayaks last September with 1,902 boats forming the raft. That record was set by the little town of Inlet, N.Y. on Fourth Lake.
“I thought, that is a really cool event, but our water is way more beautiful,” she said.
When she later heard the school was looking for a fundraiser she took the idea to Superintendent Michael Murray, who loved it.
She is hoping to raise $50,000 — a lofty number, but she thinks it can be done. The money will benefit the Suttons Bay School Student Activity Fund that pays for things like field trips, the senior party and a teambuilding camp that all middle-schoolers attend at the beginning of the year. There’s no money in the school budget for those kinds of extras, Thornhill said. Otherwise, students and their parents would have to pay for such activities.
So what does Thornhill’s friend think of her trying to break the record?
“We have gotten so much support from the people from Inlet,” she said. “My friend thinks it’s awesome. If she could afford to fly here for the event she would.”
Will there be more Floatillas? That depends, Thornhill said.
“We certainly won’t try to beat our own record,” she said. But if the Inlet record is broken on Saturday, the gauntlet has been thrown down “in a really friendly way.”
She thinks the event could be done again, though not necessarily to break a world record. After all, it’s a lot of pressure to get 2,000 boats to participate.
“We could have just as much fun with 500 boats,” she said.
Other weekend events include:
Sugar’s Folly, a play written by local playwright Sue Hanson, will be performed at the Northport Community Arts Center at 8 p.m. Sat. and 3 p.m. Sun.; and at 8 p.m. Sept. 8 and 3 p.m. Sept. 9. The original Sugar’s Folly production has gotten a rewrite from Hanson, who has removed some characters and added some new ones.
Tickets are $15 for adults and $5 for children 12 and under. They can be purchased at the Northport Area Museum and at the door.
The 14th Annual Leland Bridge Walk will step off at noon on Labor Day. The event is free, and anyone wishing to participate should meet between the Bluebird Restaurant and the Riverside Inn in Leland. All participants will get a certificate of achievement, with the first 100 walkers receiving a prize. Participants then gather on the lawn of the Old Art Building for lemonade, cookies and conversation.
In past years bridge-walkers have numbered from 70 to 200, he said.
“I always joke about it,” said Gery Zemaitis, who helped his wife Karen organize the walk. “It starts at noon and ends at 12:05. It’s shorter than the Mackinaw Bridge walk and you don’t have to worry about being blown over the side or about being afraid of heights.”
The Glen Arbor Bridge Walk also takes place at noon on Labor Day, with people meeting for the event at the On the Narrows Marina. Started by Dotti Thompson and her husband in 1994, the walk is exactly 0.3 of a mile, said Thompson, an ambassador with the Glen Lake Chamber of Commerce.
“We do have an ambulance and police available in case anyone can’t quite make it,” Thompson said, jokingly.
Commemorative t-shirts are available and anyone who doesn’t wear this year’s shirt will be sure to get hassled, she said — again, jokingly.