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2nd annual

whatever Floats your boat parade

Saturday, June 1, 2024


We love our river! Help support the ecology and water quality of the Occoquan River, and help keep our local wildlife healthy! Design and decorate a river vessel that expresses your creativity-- be it raft, canoe, inflatable, dinghy, kayak, rowboat or other non-motorized craft and enter the 2nd annual Whatever Floats Your Boat Parade on June 1, 2024. Launch at the Occoquan Regional Park site and paddle or row along the coastline of town to Occoquan's footbridge to be judged. The greater portion of registration fees goes toward Occoquan’s Million Mighty Mussel Project in partnership with Potomac RiverKeeper Network.

Design Tips and Considerations
  • Have a theme.

  • Be colorful.

  • Vessels must be family-friendly.

  • Your team can be as few as 1 individual to as many as will fit your vessel.

  • Will your team wear costumes?

  • As you begin to design, make sure your crew will be able to row or paddle.

  • Don’t forget oars or paddles! No motorized crafts are allowed.

  • Your vessel should be able to get in and out of the water easily.

  • No design elements should be a hazard to the river ecosystem.

  • Boats with a draft greater than 18 inches will have a hard time navigating the shallower portions of the parade route.


  • Elect a Team Captain to be the point of contact between your team and our staff. Team captains should be 18 or older.

  • Teams will be issued a number for judging purposes. Teams must arrange for their number to be prominently displayed during the parade.

  • All crew members must wear a life jacket.

  • All design elements should be firmly attached to the main craft.

  • No elements should be a hazard to the river ecosystem.

  • No electrical power sources will be allowed on any vessel once in contact with the water.

  • Each team is responsible for removing their vessel from the river after the race.



Registration for the parade is $45 per vessel. Businesses interested in participating in the parade become sponsors of the event. The fee for businesses is $150.





Judging takes place at the footbridge at 11am and the award ceremony is at 2pm in River Mill Park.

One winner in each category:

  • Most Likely to Sink

  • Most Enthusiastic

  • Best Eco-Float

  • Funniest

  • Most Creative

  • Best Overall




Can we visit the festival and still be part of the parade?

Absolutely! Participants will receive free bus passes for their team and may board the shuttle at the Yellow Lot pick up at Workhouse Arts Center at 9518 Workhouse Way in Lorton on June 1 & 2. Bus passes are good for either day (or both) of the festival. Alternatively, participants may make use of the Occoquan kayak launch to disembark temporarily on Saturday to participate in other festival activities. Because our kayak launch is also used for safety prep during the festival, no crafts may tie up at the launch or dock overnight. Crafts must be pulled up out of the water and onto the ramp.


What is the parade schedule?

9:00am - Safety vehicles are on standby; brief safety inspection 

10:00am - Participant vessels put in the water at Occoquan Regional Park

10:30am - Vessels row, paddle, or ride the ½ mile parade route to the Occoquan Footbridge

11:00-11:30am - Judging

11:30am - Vessels make the return route to Occoquan Regional Park

2pm - Award Ceremony at River Mill Park


Where do we launch?

The launch point is Occoquan Regional Park at 9751 Ox Road in Lorton. Please note there may be a queue for launching on parade day so plan accordingly. The Occoquan town dock and kayak launch are not available for launching during RiverFest due to festival road closures.


Are there safety precautions?
  • All participants must wear a life jacket.

  • No electrical equipment is allowed on the vessel once it makes contact with the water.

  • Occoquan Police Department will operate a 12ft marine patrol safety boat during the parade and a jetski will operate as a follow along vessel and support participants in the river as needed.


Where do we park?

Parking is readily available at Occoquan Regional Park. Vehicles with trailers attached must park in the boat parking area at the park. There is no parking in Occoquan during RiverFest due to festival road closures.

Where are Restrooms?

Restrooms are located throughout the RiverFest event area as well as Occoquan Regional Park.


Email the Events office at

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