Floatilla: ‘Will float for friends’

By Emmi Frankum, Staff Writer

On Sunday Aug. 24. around 3 p.m, nearly a hundred men women and children pushed off the shore of the back river and prepared for a four hour float in  Memory of Frank Schuman Sr. and benefitting the Fresh Air Home on Tybee Island for Floatilla 2014.

Alley 3, the entry point for participants, was filled by the crowd of people and their floating vessels, waterproof speakers blasting music, and floating coolers. The scene was quite chaotic prior to the launch.

Many, like Larry Browder, a Savannah native, were hurrying to drop floaters off with their gear before the Tybee parking service attendants who were patrolling the area on foot, ticketed them.  “It’s a cluster!” Browder said before adding, “we do it for the cause.”

Six women unfolded themselves, floats and a loaded down cooler from Browder’s minivan are what Browder calls his “posse”. “Safety is number one on the water,” Browder said. He and his posse began preparations the night before the event, he was assigned the role of designated driver and was responsible for drop off at Alley 3 and then pick them up from the Crab Shack four hours later.

Browder offered some advice for future Floatilla floaters: “Someone’s float always has a hole in it, so small pieces of duct tape are good to have on the float in case you need to patch a hole mid-way through.”

Kim Kus and Heather Johnson, Armstrong graduates of 2010, prepared for their float with turkey sandwiches and beer by the drop off point. Johnson said, “It’s ridiculous to pay this much money to float down the river!” Kus added, “We lucked out, we won our tickets off of the radio.”

Kus, who has participated in the last three Floatillas, did claim every year Floatilla has been an “Awesome social event and a great time.” Johnson, a first time floater said, “I just hope my float doesn’t sink!” Kus’ advice for future floaters is: “The smaller the float the better. Big floats get taken by the wind and end up in the oyster beds and marsh!”

Roxanna Simons, a Political Science major at Armstrong who was prepared for her first Floatilla float mentioned, “This is a great way to spend a Sunday with friends!” Simons also stated that her reasons for floating were rooted in her desire to give back to the Fresh Air Home, a local charity that gives many under-privileged children a free summer camp experience on Tybee.  Simons also stressed the importance of safety and staying with a group of people. Her tip was: “Choose a good group of people to float with, because you’ll be stuck with them for a long time.”

Floatilla raised roughly eight thousand dollars this year with all proceeds benefitting the Fresh Air Home.