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Rockford Revived a Wacky Tradition and 20,000 People Showed Up

21 Sep, 2016

By: Michael Popke

For the first time since 1998, the Rock River Anything That Floats Race returned by popular demand to Rockford, Illinois, on Aug. 21, and an estimated 20,000 participants, spectators, volunteers and coordinators attended. The event raised nearly $9,000 to benefit several local causes, including the Rockford Fourth of July and holiday lighting efforts.

Organizers of the event (which dates back to 1976) adhered strictly to the “anything that floats” premise. All rafts were homemade, no commercially manufactured hulls were allowed, and crew sizes were no larger than 10 people. Other than that, just about anything went, including a canoe pulling a hungry shark and a floating octopus with one rower on each arm.

“This is a core principal of the Rock River Trail Initiative — promoting the enjoyment of our beautiful 320-mile National Water Trail and protecting its quality so everyone can benefit in as many ways as possible,” says Frank Schier, founder and coordinator of the Rock River Trail Initiative.

“This needed to come back,” Andrea Mandala, marketing and communications manager for the Rockford Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, told Sports Destination Management in its September/October issue.

We especially love the event’s T-shirts, which boldly proclaim “Get Your Ship Together.”

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