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article imageFlotilla of partying Americans accidentally invade Canada

By Karen Graham     Aug 23, 2016 in World
Sarnia - About 1,500 Americans, on rafts, canoes, inner tubes and other floatation devices, inadvertently invaded Canada Sunday evening, forcing the Canadian Coast Guard, Sarnia police, the OPP and others to be called to duty.
It wasn't really an invasion, but it was an accidental and illegal entry into our Northern neighbor's territorial waters. The revellers were taking part in the annual Port Huron Float Down, held on the St. Clair River that separates the US state of Michigan and the Canadian province of Ontario.
But strong winds pushed the flotilla of partying Americans to a number of points along the Canadian shore, resulting in everyone needing to be rescued. And with 1,500 people, the Sarnia police, the OPP, the Canadian Coast Guard, Canada Border Service Agency and employees from a nearby chemical company, Lanxess Canada had their hands full, reports CBC.
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Kristen Anderson Art/Twitter
"There were Americans everywhere. There were people in places you'd never think something would float, but there were Americans everywhere," Peter Garapick of the Canadian Coast Guard told reporters. "There was no chance for anything floating or people on inner tubes to go anywhere but Canada."
Not only that but the winds had been consistently blowing around 10-15 knots all day, with gusts up to 27 knots. And with everyone just "floating along" with the current, it was inevitable that the little flotilla would get blown off course.
"The people who take part in this are not mariners," Garapick said. "They don't look at the wind, the weather, and the waves. We knew from the get-go, the winds were going to cause a problem. There's no question they were involuntarily coming to Canada."
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Mark ‏@doppelmock
Some Americans worried about being in Canada without a passport or identification, tried to swim back to the American side of the river. "They were terrified of entering another country without documentation. No one carries their passport or any ID, and a lot were drinking alcohol," Garapick said.
But the whole accidental invasion turned out well, and despite a few minor injuries, everyone was rescued and safely returned to the U.S. Once all the floaters were fished out of the water or simply gathered on shore, passersby willingly shed outer garments to keep the wet illegals warm.
The wayward travelers got first class transportation back to the U.S. aboard Sarnia Transit buses, with a police escort. "It got crazy out there, but it worked out," the Sarnia Police Service posted on its Facebook page.
The annual Port Huron Float Down has no sponsors, no registration process and no one who claims to be responsible for the event. It has had a lot of bad press from shipping companies who have criticized the event over safety issues and its impact on their operations on the river reports CBC.
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Sarnia Police/Twitter
The Port Huron Float Down group took to its Facebook page Sunday night, profusely expressing their gratitude to their northern neighbors.
“We want to express our gratitude to the Canadian Authorities for their assistance and understanding with the floaters who’ve unintentionally been forced to the Canadian shoreline,” the group wrote. “You’ve shown us true kindness and what it means to be amazing neighbors!"
So far, no charges have been filed over the illegal entry into a foreign country. But a breakdown of costs to the city of Sarnia was posted on the city's communication network on Tuesday. Total costs for the rescue comes to an estimated $8,181.77. This figure includes overtime costs and additional expenses directly incurred by each department involved in the rescue.
More about port Huron Float down, 1500 rafters, canadian territory, Illegals, accidental journey
 
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