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Mission Statement

Vision: A city in love with its river.

Mission: Transform Portland’s relationship with the Willamette River.


1. Create a human habitat and more accessibility points to the Willamette River.

2. Inspire people to get into the Willamette River.

3. Facilitate stewardship of the Willamette River and Watershed.

Neptune is our guide

Carrying our flag (in this case a trident) is Neptune, god of the seas and rivers. We have recreated Neptune as a modern-day female, defending the river and leading people to it. As an Olympian god, Neptune is endowed with fantastic powers. She is amphibious and able to survive in water and air. She can also communicate with all sea creatures and swim at superhuman speeds. Neptune wields an enchanted trident, possessed of mystical properties.

During Roman times, a festival of Neptune, called Neptunalia, was held annually in the height of summer on July 23 rd. It was one of the dies comitiales, when committees of public citizens could vote on civil or criminal matters. Neptunalia was a time of free and unrestrained merrymaking, during which men and women mixed without the usual Roman social constraints. Sounds like The Big Float.


Beach party here we come

We launch from "Poet's Beach" (west bank under Marquam Bridge) and take out at the Tom McCall Bowl - on the west bank of the river just south of the Hawthorne Bridge. That ’s where we’ll gather after the float for Portland’s summer beach party - including a music barge and live bands. Revelers can recline in their watercraft on the river - or frolic on the beach or grassy bowl.

The Big Float is open to all ages. All floaters must wear a life jacket. It's a safe voyage, not a race. Join the flotilla and attend the grandest pool party Portland has ever seen!

Come on in - the water’s fine!

Despite public perception (which we are trying to change), the Willamette River is approved for summer swimming, except in the now very rare instances when Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) conditions are present.

With the Big Pipe project now complete, it’s expected that a CSO will occur only once every two summers (but very likely never again). You are more likely to see a whale swim up the Willamette than see a CSO in summer! Oregon DEQ states that when CSO conditions are not present, "the Willamette River is safe for swimming and other recreational uses."


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