U.S., Canadian authorities warn against annual ‘Float Down’ near Sarnia, Ont.

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SARNIA, Ont. — Authorities on both sides of the Canada-U.S. border are warning people not to participate in an annual tubing party this Sunday on the river that separates Sarnia, Ont., from Port Huron, Mich.

The so-called “Float Down,” which is more than 30 years old, sees thousands of people float on inner tubes and rafts down the St. Clair River.

Participants in the unsanctioned event enter the river near Port Huron, then float downstream for several kilometres.

In a joint statement, the U.S. and Canadian coast guards warn of the serious legal repercussions of crossing the border, which has been closed to non-essential travel since March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In 2016, adverse weather blew nearly 1,600 Americans ashore in Sarnia, Ont., and the city had to use public transit buses to ferry them back across the border.

Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley says this year, authorities are planning for a much more severe response should any Americans find themselves on the Canadian side.