A total of 464 people needed assistance in the St. Clair River on Sunday during the Port Huron Float Down, the Canadian Coast Guard reports.
Thousands of people on the U.S. side rode the current in an array of inflatable rafts and rings, kayaks and paddleboard. Hundred more did the same on the Canadian side during the unsanctioned event.
Most of those needing help had problems with floats deflating and were assisted by the United States Coast Guard and its partner agencies.
The river was closed to ships and recreational boaters from noon until 8 p.m. First responders from both countries had about 40 vessels in the water to ensure public safety.
Spectators lined the shore beneath the Blue Water Bridge, taking photos and watching with binoculars as flotillas of colourful rafts drifted by.
A Canadian Coast Guard helicopter patrolled from above and gave rescuers information on the location of floaters.
There were no reported arrests and, unlike previous years, no U.S. citizens came ashore in Canada after being blown off course.
“Fortunately, nothing of significance occurred,” said Sarnia Police Const. Giovanni Sottosanti.
“A small number of individuals were assisted to shore due their rafts deflating, but otherwise all were safe and compliant.”
Sarnia Fire Rescue helped one young woman who became ill and brought her in for treatment by Lambton EMS.
Fifteen people on the Port Huron side needed medical attention, U.S. officials reported.
The Canadian response was a collaboration of the Coast Guard, Sarnia Police, OPP, RCMP and CBSA, Lambton Emergency Management Services, Sarnia Fire Rescue and the Point Edward Fire department, City of Sarnia, Transport Canada and volunteers from the Coast Guard Auxiliary.
A few floaters were unaccounted later in the day but everyone was eventually located.
The Coast Guard, which has urged those who do participate to wear a lifejacket, said more people appear to have taken the advice to heart.