It rains in Portland. It rains a lot! So when summer rolls around and the sun finally shines its happy light on us, everyone heads for the great outdoors and some fun in the sun – Portland style. Which is how hubs and I ended up at The Big Float.
This year more than 2,500 souls dragged their pale white bodies, their favorite flotation devices, kids, friends, grandma and in some cases, even their dogs through the streets of Southwest Portland making their way to Tom McCall Waterfront Park to pay the $6 fee that allowed them to participate in one of Portland’s most unique summer events.
The Big Float officially kicked off with a spectacular parade let by the Last Regiment of Syncopated Drummers, a very good and very loud drum corps marching band. The band played as the would-be floaters, in all their floating finery, clutched their flotation devices big and small, formed a very long line and began to snake their way slowly down the pedestrian walkway from Waterfront Park to Poet’s Beach. They shuffled for roughly a quarter mile passing a high end hotel, several restaurants, shops, a wine bar and a condominium complex.
Some smart folks, who had probably done this once or twice before, decided to skip the official parade and beat it down the path to Poet’s Beach well ahead of the official start. They had time for a pre-float work out and some mental prep.
When the marchers finally reached Poet’s Beach, things slowed down considerably as they had to make a very sharp left turn, leave the pavement and pick their way very carefully down a narrow gravel path. This was easier for some than others. Like the folks carrying large 6 man rafts on their heads.
The band played for an hour and still the parade was lined up as far back as our eyes could see. They were a patient bunch but it was hot and that chilly river water was looking better and better.
I had a vision of thousands of very colorful lemmings singing and dancing their way to the sea. But in the end, everyone agreed it was definitely worth the slow walk and the long wait.
When they finally did hit the water, it was an easy float or paddle back to Waterfront Park where the party was now in full swing. Three bands entertained from a barge just offshore, nine carts provided local food and drink, chair massages helped work out the kinks and a play area entertained the wee ones. Add lots of cool grass to stretch out on – and a good time was had by all.
Portland, you sure know how to throw a Summer Party. Thanks for inviting us.
Keep Portland Weird!