Port Huron Float Down draws smaller crowds after warnings from both sides of the border
SARNIA, ONT. -- The annual Port Huron Float Down on the river that separates Sarnia, Ont., from Port Huron, Mich., took place Sunday afternoon despite officials on both sides of the border warning against participation.
Hundreds of floaters took to the water, opposed to thousands last year.
Mayor of Sarnia, Mike Bradley sounded the alarm, saying the event should have been cancelled until the borders reopened.
“What you see out there in the river is what I would call, the COVID idiots, who don’t respect other people and don’t respect themselves,’ says Bradley.
Bradley warns that floaters from Michigan could wash onto Canadian soil and potentially increase COVID-19 cases in Sarnia. He says that in 2016‘s Float Down, over 1000 Americans drifted to Canadian shorelines.
“We took care of them, there were no arrests made and they were returned to the United States. This year with Michigan being a hot bed of COVID with over 6800 deaths, we did not want that risk here,’ says Bradley.
The RCMP were stationed at Ferry Dock Hill, preparing for that possibility.
“If they’re Canadian, they get to go home. But if they’re American they’re not admissible right now, there is non- essential travel. We make sure they come on shore safely and get transported to United States,” says Constable Ian Smith with the RCMP.
They were also at waterfront park monitoring the area.
Some onlookers to the Float Down, say they were concerned as well, and think this years event should have been skipped.
“We have a low (COVID-19) count here compared to across the border where they are almost triple of what we have,’ says Aaron Armstrong.
Dave, who used to participate in the Float Down himself, says he is not at all worried.
“You’re away from people, you’ve got to have some fun in life. It’s been a touch year as it is,” says Dave.
The Canadian and American Coast Guard, were making sure people floated on route and away from the Canadian shoreline.
So far, there have been no reports of Americans crossing over to Canada
RCMP warned that the consequences for crossing into Canada during the pandemic are substantial.
A spokeswoman says crossing the marine border into Canada for optional or discretionary purposes such as touring, sightseeing and recreational fishing may result in fines of up to $750,000 or imprisonment for up to six months.