I'm back. Thank goodness, right?
Sunday, July 29, I spent several hours downtown either walking back and forth across the Hawthorne Bridge or walking along the west or east banks of the Willamette River. My goal, to see as much as I could of The Big Float. Today I'll begin to share photos with you, in no particular order. All of these are of the same man, after he'd completed The Big Float course. I saw him walking back and forth on the east bank of the Willamette River, still wearing everything he'd worn while floating.
First I saw him walking south.
Then I saw him walking north.
Then I saw him talking with the ice cream vendor, putting away his paddle so that he'd have both hands available to open his valuables plastic bag.
Here's a good shot of the ice cream vendor's set-up--her bicycle, trailer, and ice chest. I'll bet she's done this at other outdoor summer events.
And here he is, heading south again, ice cream sandwich in his left hand as he prepares to zip shut his valuables plastic bag.
From the big float dot com:
What’s the BIG idea?
This second annual Willamette River event, benefitting Willamette Riverkeeper, is a celebration of our river – including the recreation it offers as well as the restoration it has undergone in recent years. The idea is to enjoy the river and also inspire positive aspirations for the river’s protection and improvement.
New Features for TBF II
* Outlandish Watercraft Award
* Best-of-Cruise Costume Award
* Paddlers parade - kayakers, canoeists, dragon boaters, crew teams, SUP’ers
* Floating barge with live music
The Big Float II is open to all ages. All floaters must wear a life jacket. It's a safe voyage, not a race.
Join the flotilla. Share in the "great crossing" and participate in the grandest pool party Portland has ever seen!
Pre-Float Inner-Tube Waterfront Parade
THE BIG FLOAT is an opportunity for the people of Portland to partake in a public display of affection for the Willamette River. In grand style, the event will begin with a “parade of floaters”.
Participants will gather with their inner tubes or other watercraft in a parking lot near the Eastbank Promenade beneath the Hawthorne Bridge. Shortly after high noon, they will sally forth across the bridge and head south along Waterfront Park to the put-in point at Marquam Bridge beach, below the Marquam Bridge.
Start time is 12:30 at the gravel parking lot due South of the Hawthorne Bridge.
After signing waiver forms (register online for convenience), floaters will enter the river from Marquam Bridge beach and cross in groups of 50, under the supervision of Coast Guard personnel. Kayaker chaperones will also provide escort help.
Floaters will head east across the river and proceed downstream to the landing area, where swimming will be allowed. All floaters must have a flotation device and wear a life vest. No alcohol is allowed on the float, but will be available at the after-party.
Is THE BIG FLOAT big on safety?
Safety is a critical component of THE BIG FLOAT. The event will be supervised by the Coast Guard, Portland Fire Department and the Multnomah County River Patrol. Safety kayakers will line the route to provide additional visual survaliance. Floaters will be debriefed before launching by Willamette Riverkeeper volunteers and Coast Guard staff.
Unsafe, unlawful behavior (and alcohol consumption) will not be tolerated and will be enforced by the Multnomah County River Patrol and the Coast Guard. THE BIG FLOAT reserves the right to reject any "craft" deemed unsafe to float on.
Do I need a life jacket?
Yes, all floaters must wear a life jacket. This will not only help keep you safe, it will make our friends in the local Coast Guard very happy. And we want everyone to be happy.
Why do I need to register?
Participants are encouraged to pre-register to help organizers plan for the event. By filling out the registration and waiver form prior to the event, you won’t have to do it at the start point of the float, saving time. So please be a peach and register. THE BIG FLOAT will cap participation at 2,000 people, register early.
Are air mattresses allowed? Water wings? What other types of watercraft?
Air mattresses – yes. Anything float-worthy you can sit on or lie on is allowable. You may swim across but must wear a life jacket.
Where can I get an inner tube?
THE BIG FLOAT sponsor's Popina Swimwear Portland and Les Schwab Tire Centers will be selling inner tubes.
Can we tie our watercraft together and go as a group?
Yes, but everyone tied together must have a life jacket.
Can we bring alcoholic beverages with us on our voyage across?
Negative on that. The Multnomah County River Patrol and Coast Guard will be keeping a close eye out for alcohol.
Are kids welcome to float?
All ages are welcome to participate in The Big Float.
What if it rains the days before or day of the event?
Weather could be a factor in postponement or cancellation of the float. Check this website for last-minute updates.
Where does the name Willamette come from anyway?
Wikipedia states that Willamette derives from the French pronunciation of the name of a Clackamas Indian village. Other sources say Willamette is thought to mean a long, beautiful river. There is no definitive answer. However, it is a fact that the Willamette River is the largest U.S. river lying entirely within one state.
Where’s a good place to get a pirate costume?
Aye, Portland has many good costume outlets, including Hollywood Portland Costumers, Helens Pacific Costumers, and the Lippman Company. Pirates should not board, sink, or pillage other vessels.
Who invented the inner tube?
In 1911, Philip Strauss invented the first successful tire, which was a combination tire and air-filled inner tube. It is not known who the intrepid individual was who first sailed down a river in one.
How does one gracefully board an inner tube?
Forget graceful. Just plop your butt in the center of the tube and start paddling. There will be inner-tube handlers in the water to help you plop on your inner tube and push you on your way for your historic maiden crossing.