People armed with inflatable rafts, kayaks, swimsuits and booze descended on Lighthouse Beach in Port Huron on Sunday for the unsanctioned event known as Float Down.
Around 2:15 p.m., floats passed Desmond Landing. While gray clouds covered the sun, the announced rain had not yet come to dampen the celebrations of the participants.
Emergency boats from the U.S. and Canadian Coast Guard, St. Clair County Sheriff’s Department, and area police and fire departments floated on the water, keeping a watchful eye on the floats as ‘they entered the water around noon.
Attendance seemed to number in the hundreds. Roger Randall, St. Clair County dive team leader, said turnout is about a third to half of what it has been in previous years, likely due to the threat rain or storms.
Some rafts had a creative flair. Michelle Keagy came from Wood Haven for the event with a group of about 10 family and friends. A raft sporting an inflatable bull sported an inflatable man with a sign that read “Ship Face Beaches”.
Keagy said she has been participating for a few years because she loves doing it with her group and they enjoy the adventure. One year they nearly got swept into Canada and had to be removed by the coast guard. Another year their rafts deflated and they were pulled out by members of the Coast Guard.
“It’s like Christmas here,” she said.
Jason Drake traveled to Port Huron with his wife, Missy Drake, from Holland to meet his father, Tom Drake. They said they liked being on the water and relaxing. They plan to retire to a private residence on the Port Huron and Marysville border to attend a party with family and friends after the event.
The threat of rain didn’t deter them, but they said they were ready with phones and water and had people to pull them out if the weather turned sour.
Robert Nead, a Port Huron resident who was attending the Float Down with his girlfriend and two friends, was also not concerned about the weather. He was standing on the beach beside his canoe. He said he likes being able to help people and hold them back if they get too close to Canada with his little ship.
“I love the water, the fun, the adventure,” Nead said.
Randall said no incidents were reported around 1:15 p.m.
Contact Laura Fitzgerald at (810) 941-7072 or [email protected]