IF YOU GO
What: The Floatila community float
When: 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, May 18
Where: From boat ramp at Rivermont Park, 3400 Lupton Drive, to Coolidge Park, 150 River St. After-party will take place at Outdoor Chattanooga, 200 River St., beginning at 3 p.m.
Admission: Free to watch; $20 per person/$10 child in advance to register, $30/$20 day of
Andrew Zaleski figures his engineering background might come in handy when it comes to building a boat for the Floatila community float down the Tennessee River on Saturday, May 18.
Zaleski and two friends -- Patrick Noland and Robert Kellermann -- plan to build a boat from 55-gallon rain barrels complete with a deck for chairs. The design challenge for them is that they don't have a big truck or trailer, so they will have to dismantle the boat to transport it and rebuild it on-site Saturday.
It's the challenge though that interested them.
"The design element looped us in," he said.
He also saw the fundraiser for GreenSpaces as a way to see the river from a new angle.
"I have an undergrad degree in engineering management from UTC, so I'm not unfamiliar with putting things together," he said. "We see this as a reason to get together and put all this together and have our own design. Plus, it sounds like a fun excuse to float down the Tennessee River."
That is exactly the idea behind the event, according to Rosemary Hunerwald, social media and event coordinator with GreenSpaces, an organization committed to furthering environmental sustainability in the region.
Hunerwald said she expects from 200 to 300 people to participate, with most of them on teams of two to eight people.
"However, there is no shame in floating down the river by yourself," she said.
There have been similar events around the country over the years, but this is the first time for Chattanooga.
The first boats will put in around 11 a.m., and Hunerwald said she hopes to launch the final one at noon. Depending on the current, the float time should take three to four hours. Hunerwald said she has been watching the weather and talking to officials to make sure the the river is safe for the event.
Local musician Lon Eldridge will perform live at Outdoor Chattanooga in Coolidge Park as part of the after-party, which will also include the awards ceremony. Awards will be handed out for Most Challenged Boat, Best Boat Using Repurposed Materials, Best Flag, Best Theme and Best Individual Costume.
The rules are pretty simple. A float must float. You can build your own, bring something you already own or borrow one. You can even rent one from Outdoor Adventure Rafting, which will have eight-man rafts available. All boaters must have an approved life jacket, and each boat must have a flag. You need to use a paddle and have a 20-foot rope, just in case you need to be rescued.
Contact staff writer Barry Courter at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6354.
Barry Courter is staff reporter and columnist for the Times Free Press. He started his journalism career at the Chattanooga News-Free Press in 1987. He covers primarily entertainment and events for ChattanoogaNow, as well as feature stories for the Life section. Born in Lafayette, Ind., Barry has lived in Chattanooga since 1968. He graduated from Notre Dame High School and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with a degree in broadcast journalism. He previously was ...