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The Finale of The Big Float

May 13, 2022

The Big Float X        Sunday July, 10th     Tom McCall Waterfront Park

Early Bird registration now open! Volunteers and Floaters sign up!


It is bittersweet to announce that this year’s 10th anniversary of The Big Float on Sunday July 10th will be the FINAL installment of HAP’s annual river celebration (for a while). As the event founder, this year’s TBF feels like a party that is 12 years in the making, and a beautiful way to put a bow on an event that has both been a powerful catalyst for change and fun.  TBF truly became the movement disguised as a party I hoped it would be.


Team HAP is now focused on ensuring that The Big Float X is the very best yet and will be remembered as Portland’s grandest river celebration – a parade, float, and beach bash with live music. Our three band music lineup will be announced soon.


When a handful of friends and I founded Human Access Project in 2010, we decided our mission would be to “Transform Portland’s relationship with the Willamette River.” People told us we were crazy to swim in the river, that no one would come to The Big Float, that the Willamette River was a lost cause and worse!  We researched and understood the science, that showed that after decades of water quality improvements, including The Big Pipe, the Willamette River is now safe to swim in.


We knew if we could develop the right outreach and platforms for people to discover the Willamette River in a positive way there would be no looking back. Our goals included opening downtown beaches and swimming areas, changing city policy, developing a positive river culture that feels safe and inviting to all and to have fun doing it!


We have done all those things and more including - activating Poet’s Beach, Audrey McCall Beach, Kevin Duckworth Dock, and Fire House Dock.  We hosted four Mayoral Swims, three Valentine’s Dips, and gave a massive lift to City policies around swimming in the Willamette River. In fact, this year Portland Parks and Recreation will identify and promote five “safer” swimming areas to the public - Poet’s, Audrey McCall, Sellwood, Cathedral Park and Tom McCall Bowl. Also, this year will be the 10-year anniversary of HAP and the City’s beloved River Hugger Swim Team.


Do not fear, Team HAP will continue full steam ahead on our full plate of work including 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.  Plus development of proper beach parks at Audrey McCall Beach, Poet’s, Cathedral and the granddaddy of them all Tom McCall Bowl.

Our number one priority remains developing a solution to the Ross Island Lagoon Harmful Algae Bloom (more deets to come).  I feel confident we will find and implement a solution. Once we do, HAP pledges to bring back The Big Float at least one more time to celebrate the completion of this critical work.


We need volunteers!

Don’t want to float but love the idea of being a part of our grand river party? We need volunteers to help support TBF X! Most important are river safety monitors to assist our river rescue trained lifeguards to provide keen eyes on the water – if you have a kayak, canoe or SUP please join our team, we provide basic training.  Or sign up on land to help with registration, inflating innertubes, or filling general needs. All volunteers will be fed and will receive a limited run TBF X T-shirt.


So, sign up, invite friends, volunteer! Jump into The Big Float X! Join the riverlution at!


Willie Levenson

Human Access Project, Ringleader