The Human Access Project (HAP) has announced that this year’s 10th anniversary of The Big Float will be the final installment of the annual river celebration (for a while).
When HAP was founded in 2010, the mission was to “transform Portland’s relationship with the Willamette River” but there were plenty of skeptics, sure that no one would come to The Big Float.
HAP had done their research, however, and understood the science that showed, after decades of water quality improvements, including The Big Pipe, that the Willamette River was safe to swim in. They just needed to develop the right outreach and platforms for people to rediscover the Willamette River in a positive way. And they did.
One of their goals was to open downtown beaches and swimming areas, which they did by activating Poet’s Beach, Audrey McCall Beach, Kevin Duckworth Dock and Fire House Dock. Another was to develop a positive river culture that feels safe and inviting to all, accomplished in part by hosting four Mayoral Swims and three Valentine’s Dips. They also gave a massive lift to the city policies around swimming in the Willamette River, which made these things possible.
While The Big Float will be going on hiatus after this summer, the HAP team will be continuing full steam ahead on their work that includes mitigation of the Ross Island Lagoon Harmful Algae Bloom, river access for the new Burnside Bridge, replacement of the Holman (near the Hawthorne bridge), Sellwood and Cathedral Park docks. They’ll also be working on the development of proper beach parks at Audrey McCall Beach, Poet’s, Cathedral and the Tom McCall Bowl.
In the meantime, get ready for the very best yet The Big Float on Sunday, July 10. The river celebration will include a parade, float and beach bash with live music. Visit thebigfloat.com for early bird floaters’ registration through June 30, more event details and volunteer opportunities.