Poet’s Beach, Big Float merge water fun on Willamette

Big Float set for this Saturday

KOIN 6 News reporter Kohr Harlan, in the water, talks with Willie Levenson at Poet's Beach on the Willamette River, July 11, 2017 (KOIN)
KOIN 6 News reporter Kohr Harlan, in the water, talks with Willie Levenson at Poet's Beach on the Willamette River, July 11, 2017 (KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The opening of Poet’s Beach coincides with the annual Big Float on the Willamette River, weekend events likely to brings thousands to the waterfront in downtown Portland.

Poet’s Beach, at the west end of the Marquam Bridge, will open later this week.

In 2014, Human Access Project staged a grand opening for the little-used waterfront site south of RiverPlace near the Marquam Bridge, after creating a gravel trail to provide easier pedestrian access to the water.

The advocacy group, led by ringleader Willie Levenson, named it Poet’s Beach after commissioning a series of basalt chunks carved with children’s poems about the Willamette River and words in the Chinook language. The Chinook people lived along the river before white settlers overtook it. Those stones line the path to the river.

Portland's first pop-up beach, Poet's Beach, will open along the Willamette River soon, July 6, 2017 (KOIN)
Portland’s first pop-up beach, Poet’s Beach, will open along the Willamette River soon, July 6, 2017 (KOIN)

Poet’s Beach will have a buoy line designating the safe place for people to swim in the river.

Levenson is also involved in the Big Float, which could bring as many as 4000 people to the waterfront spot.

“Everyone is required to wear a life vest,” Levenson told KOIN 6 News. “We recommend inner tubes, and people come up with creative devices to float on.”

He said there are 2 floating stages for the planned concerts by LoveBomb Go-Go, PERK!, Tony Starlight and the Starella Sisters, and Clinton Fearon & Boogie Brown Band. There are also two 100-foot long slip-and-slides.

The Big Float takes place July 15 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.