Northern Michigan Events: Thousands of canoes and kayaks will raft off at Suttons Bay’s 2013 Floatilla 2 this August, marking the town’s second attempt to break the Guinness World Record for largest flotilla of canoes and kayaks.

“It’s visually amazing,” said Kate Thornhill, creator of Suttons Bay’s first Floatilla in 2012 and mother of two Suttons Bay Public Schools graduates.

Suttons Bay Floatilla 2 organizers expect 3,000 canoes and kayaks at the August 31 event. New additions to the lakeside afternoon include live music and more food vendors at the Suttons Bay Marina, Thornhill said. Registration opened online in early June, and all proceeds will be donated to the Suttons Bay Public Schools Student Activities Fund.

Last year’s Suttons Bay Floatilla fell just 152 boats short of the current 1,902-boat Guinness World Record, set in upstate New York in 2011.

Thornhill proposed the idea to Suttons Bay Public Schools Superintendent Mike Murray when the school system faced a possible budget deficit at the end of the 2011-2012 academic year. Suttons Bay’s first Floatilla attracted 1,750 canoes and kayaks, raising $45,000 for the Suttons Bay Public Schools Student Activities Fund, Thornhill said.

At the same time, the Suttons Bay community and Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians raised approximately $100,000 for the school budget, Thornhill said. Together, they helped secure the necessary resources for the school budget.

“Last year we had a number of activities funded by the Floatilla,” Superintendent Murray said, noting student field trips to Grand Rapids and Washington, D.C. The event also funded the school’s Robotics Club and Business Professional Association trips to state competitions.

This year, the 2013 Suttons Bay Floatilla 2 will help more than 800 Suttons Bay students participate in various extracurricular activities, Murray said. Several high school students are helping organize the event for their senior leadership and community service projects, he said. —Catie L’Heureux

Photo(s) by Kate Thornhill