The official first day of summer kicked off with a splash, lots of them, actually, with the ‘First Float of the Summer,’ on Saturday, announced on social media. The event began at Jacob Myers Park and followed a route to the McHenry Recreation Area along the Stanislaus River.
City officials in Riverbank noted previously that the event was not official, or ‘permitted,’ but that they had seen the event notice on Facebook. On Saturday morning, June 20, the summer solstice, it was evident that members of the public, from far and wide, had also seen the announcement. The float was publicized by NorCal River Events. The starting point was Jacob Myers Park in Riverbank and McHenry Rec in Escalon was listed as the end point.
By 10 a.m. Saturday, the parking lot at Jacob Myers was filling up with groups, both families and just friends, assembling their floating devices. From then through the morning, there was a steady flow of floaters heading to the beach, to launch and drift down the moving water, heading for points west.
There were small groups of rafters, families, singles and couples engaged in launching their craft. Some used a variety of raft configurations, but others used tubes and some paddled kayaks, just a wide variety of configurations floating off the beach and down the river.
Before the event, park hosts had expressed concern for the size of the crowd that might attend, noting they would have to keep circulating the area to remind participants to keep their social distance from neighbors. There were no face masks in evidence among the participants.
And shortly after 11 a.m., park hosts were forced to close the gate coming into the park, having reached the capacity for vehicle parking.
Nonetheless, floating participants already inside continued to enter the river at the beach well past noon.