As part of their year-long centennial celebrations, the resort village of Manitou Beach, Sask., got into the water at Little Manitou Lake and invited about 1,300 of their closest friends to do so as well.
It was all in hopes of setting an unofficial world record for the most people floating in the water. In total, there were 1,640 people floating at one time during the event dubbed “The Big Float.”
With a population of about 260 permanent residents, the event’s turnout is quite the feat.
“It was very exciting, certainly. The beach was just vibrating with happiness,” said Sarah McKen, event coordinator and long-time resident.
“The lake is notorious for its high mineral content and the awesome floating that you can do, so it seemed like a natural way to make the most of summer at the beach — invite everybody to come float.”
Of the 1,640 people who floated, there were 1,200 from Saskatchewan, over 100 people from Alberta and Manitoba, and over 40 people from the rest of Canada, and some people who did not register where they resided.
“It’s an indication of how Little Manitou Lake really is close to the heart of many more people than who actually have properties on the lake shore,” McKen said.
There were also 35 people registered at the event who had travelled from the rest of the world, including Germany, Moscow, and the U.K.
“We are really very fortunate to have a connection with people all around the world and across the country,” she said.
The accomplishment is not a Guinness World Record, but McKen said organizers see that as a blessing in disguise.
“We actually applied to Guinness and they’re very strict with their rules, so eventually we let that go,” she explained. “It turned out to be a really good thing. People were able to bring their floaty toys and float at their comfort level, whether it was out deep or close to shore.
“It was about just having fun at the beach with family. That really seemed to create a good connection with everybody — it was very comfortable.”
The village’s centennial events have been going on since January, and planning by the committee made up of volunteer residents began last fall.
“We started our celebrations in January with Winterfest, and it went on and on.”
Though its population can be quite minimal, Manitou Beach attracts quite the tourist population, playing a big role in setting the unofficial record.
“In the summertime, we have our seasonal cabin residents join us. That takes our population to over a thousand,” McKen said. “And then we have our annual tourist visitors.
McKen said the year’s celebrations have been so successful because of the long, rich history of the little community.
“The Manitou Lake has been important to people for as long as memories and stories have been told,” she said. “Our First Nations people migrated to this lake as a gathering place when European people settled and came to Canada. This was a gathering place in the roaring ’20s.
“People weren’t jumping on a plane to go vacation in the Bahamas, it was coming to the mineral spas and enjoying the natural waters of Little Manitou Lake.”
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