• Abigail Hall

Second annual Big Float on Arkansas River to draw big crowds

Originally published by Wichita Eagle July 19, 2019.

Wichitans can experience a float and beach party in their own backyard this July.

The second annual Big Float and Beach Party will be Saturday, July 20 on the Arkansas River, with family-friendly fun for all ages.

The event is split into two activities: a float trip from Old Cowtown to the River Vista’s boathouse in Delano, as well as a free beach party at the boathouse.

Participants will have a chance to rent or bring their own floating device to relax in a community float, and then attend a beach party with food trucks, live music, beer gardens, free yoga, family friendly games and activities and more, said Michaela Rempkowski, Wichita Clean Streams chair.

“(People can) float on the river in their backyard — I think that’s the most exciting part,” Rempkowski said.

Wichitans are asked to bring their creative spirit to the float, with prizes given out for best costume and best float, she said.

The event will be much larger than last year’s event of 200 participants, with hundreds of registered participants, and 9,000 people interested on their Facebook event page, Rempkowski said.

“It’s going to be a great time this year,” Rempkowski said. “It’s fun to see everyone coming down the river in costumes and different tubes.”

Due to the large response from the community, the float will have two launches into the river at 4 and 6 p.m. for participants to choose from. Individuals must be over the age of 16 to participate in the float, and those under 18 must have a legal guardian present.

The event will begin at 3 p.m. with registration and check-in for the first float at the Clean Streams tent East of Old Cowtown. Floaters who join the first launch will float to WSU’s River Vista boathouse dock off North McLean Boulevard for the start of the beach party at 4:30 p.m.

The second float registration and check-in will begin at 5 p.m. with the launch at 6 p.m., followed by joining the party at the boathouse.

Registration is only required for float participants. Families and individuals of all ages can attend the beach party for free.

Those interested in participating in the float can register and purchase tickets online at wichitacleanstreams.com/the-big-float. It costs $5 to pre-register if individuals intend to bring their own float and life jacket, and $10 the day of the event. It costs $10 to register and rent a float and life jacket online and day of the event.

Kayaks, paddle boards and paddle boats will be available downstream. Kayaks will be free to use, but paddle boards and boats will cost an additional rental fee.

Paddle boards will be provided by Flatwater Fitness and will be half off their usual fee, and will be available to rent for $10 for an hour.

Paddle boats will be provided by Wichita Clean Streams through WSU’s rowing team’s upcoming retail operation, Boats and Bikes. The paddle boats will also be available to rent for $10 an hour, Rempkowski said.

Wichita Clean Streams is a local non-profit organization dedicated to water quality improvement and education of best practices for the community. The organization annually hosts educational and fun events to promote good water quality practices and engage the community, she said.

Currently the river flow is at 1600 cubic feet per second, which is an acceptable level to be in the water, but the organizers are hopeful it will slow down to 1000 cfs by the event for a more leisurely float, Rempkowski said.

If the river flow is above 2000 cfs on the day of the float it will be canceled and everyone who registered will be refunded, but the beach party will still go on. Wichita Clean Streams will post updates on its Facebook page, she said.

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