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Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Cross Lake Floatilla Floats On


Event in its 33rd year of sharing love of the lake

Many people think there’s no better way to spend the summer than on the water, and for the 33rd year, the Cross Lake Floatilla will help them kick the season off in style. It happens on Saturday, June 15, in multiple locations across Cross Lake.

According to Kim French, the event coordinator, it used to be a day of sun, boats, water and socializing, but these days, it has grown into a way to help local charities, too.

Located in Keithville, Heart of Hope is a school for girls who have left home or were sent away because of a pregnancy. French says, “This place takes them in; they live there. They take them to their doctor’s appointments. They have in-house learning with teachers who come in and teach every day. They’re able to finish their education and get their GED.”

The funds raised by the Floatilla also assist three VFW posts, the color guard who performs for their event, and the American Legion chapter.

Another beneficiary is Woody’s Home for Veterans. Located on Jordan Street, their mission is to provide a stable, home-like environment for veterans who are on the street and have ongoing psychiatric needs.

Funds are also raised for The Hub, a downtown ministry designed to give people who come to them access to what is described as a restored life. According to their website, freeing people from dangerous and unhealthy environments, abuse and exploitation are the first steps for that restoration to begin.

French said the Floatilla has become a way for “lake people” to network, socialize and share their love of the water. Over its history, the sponsors have kept returning to keep the celebration alive.

This year’s biggest sponsors are Harcross Chemicals, Genco Transport and G&C Honda and Marine.

“Businesses usually do $500, $1,000, $2,500,” according to French. “Harcross and Genco each did $5,000. G&C Honda and Marine did $7,500 this year.

“Those are our three big ones. Jimmy Granger is a $2,500 sponsor, along with about 10 others. This year, we’ve had more bigger sponsors than we ever had. Normally, we have a lot of thousand-dollar sponsors, but for some reason, we had as many $2,500 sponsors as we did $1,000 sponsors,” she said.

Those sponsorships help provide prizes for events like the Poker Run and the Boat Parade and help provide the amenities surrounding the event. They also buy food and T-shirts, which have become signatures of the Floatilla.

“A lot of these people have been sponsors a long time so they’re old friends, and a lot of them are lake people. So, it’s kind of their kick-off to starting summer and seeing everybody they haven’t seen all winter,” French explained.

Live entertainment is part of the fun.

The day’s events will include T-shirt sales and food for sale at the American Legion, and there’s a twist this year. Hungry participants will be able to text in their food order and then pull up to the dock to get their food without having to leave their boat. French described it as a “boatthrough” order system.

As usual, participants go to seven docks dotted around the lake for the Poker Run and pick up their “hands.” Then, it’s back to the Legion HQ to see what cards they’ve been given. The best hand wins.

The Boat Parade lets all kinds of watercraft vie for prizes.

“All the money raised goes to assist the group’s charities,” according to French. “Everybody who works on the Floatilla is totally volunteer. We’ve given over $105,000 to the charities.

$100,000 was our goal to hit for one year, but we haven’t gotten that yet.”

As the sun fades over Cross Lake, the sky will come alive with a fireworks show. “Curtis Elkins at Pyromania is our fireworks guy. He has fireworks that look like they’re dancing on the water, so it’s really, really, pretty.”

For more information, call (318) 272-2882 or visit them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/floatilla.

There is a parking fee at the American Legion Post, but the event is open to the public; no boat is required.

Poker, music by Eight-Track, food, T-shirts, prizes, sunboats and fireworks. French said, “You ought to come and look around.”

It’s a party on the water at the Cross Lake Floatilla.


The Forum News