PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — When the inflatable rafts cast off from Tom McCall Waterfront Park on July 10, it will be the final voyage of Portland’s annual Big Float event.

This will be the 10th-annual Big Float and ringleader of the Human Access Project, Willie Levenson told KOIN 6 News it will be the final year.

Human Access Project has organized the event every year as a way to celebrate improvements made to the quality and health of the Willamette River water, but took 2020 and 2021 off due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Now, after those two years off, Levenson said he’s realized how much of his time it takes to organize the event and is ready to move on to other things.

“After doing it for all this time, with all the work it’s taken to bring it back together, it’s really made me understand the length that we have in our lives and I’m really proud of what we’ve done,” he said.

This final float, he said, is a way to put a bow on 12 years of work.

Levenson founded the Human Access Project in 2010 out of a desire to swim in the Willamette River.

Run by volunteers, the Human Access Project has accomplished big goals in the last 12 years. Some highlights Levenson mentioned include placing “Swim at your own risk” signs around the Willamette River, pushing to open Poet’s Beach, removing trash from Audrey McCall Beach, and converting the Kevin J. Duckworth Memorial Dock from a motorized dock to a motorized-boats only dock to a swimming hole dock.

While Levenson’s work to run The Big Float is coming to an end, he hopes someone else will take an interest in it in the future.

“Hopefully, with the void of it not being here, there’ll be other organizations or other individuals that say, ‘You know what? I miss The Big Float. We need to bring this back,’” he said.  

The Big Float takes place July 10, 2022 at 11 a.m. There will be innertube parades at 1 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. Participants can register online at TheBigFloat.com. There’s an early-bird registration discount offered through May 30.