Healdsburg Water Carnival

Healdsburg Water Carnival - 2013

Join us from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, July 27, for the Healdsburg Water Carnival, a day of old-time revelry on the Russian River. Presented by Regional Parks and Healdsburg's Sunrise Rotary, the carnival features:

  • A river parade of whimsical floats
  • Sonoma County's only floating wine-barrel races
  • The Great American rubber duck dash with cool prizes
  • Children's games and activities
  • Live music by Big G and Friends featuring soul, funk and reggae
  • Delicious food prepared by local food truck chefs

Come out and experience classic fun at Healdsburg Veterans Memorial Beach! Admission is free. Parking is $7 or free for Regional Parks members.

Remember, the beach is a summer swim zone, so bring your suit and towel and make a day of it. The seasonal dam installed at the beach each summer creates a calm swim area perfect for kids and families. Swim boundaries are clearly marked, and Regional Parks' lifeguards are on duty daily through July and August.

Water Carnival proceeds go to Regional Parks to maintain the summer swimming beach and to the Sunrise Rotary Club to support youth and family services.Tickets for the Rotary's rubber duck dash can be purchased at the carnival or in advance from any Healdsburg Sunrise Rotary member or by calling Jim Brenton at 707-331-2410.

See you on the beach!

Join the Parade

Put your creativity on display by entering the Water Carnival parade! The water parade starts at 11 a.m. and is led by Sandy the Swan, a replica of an iconic float from water carnivals of decades past. Floats will follow Sandy on a short jaunt down river as spectators cheer from Healdsburg Memorial Bridge, the beach and the river bank.

Regional Parks has a limited number of float platforms available for rent, but it's your job to decorate them! (Rental fees are $100 for a platform with an electric motor or $50 for a platform with no motor.) Or you can enter your own decorated boat for $35. Note: all entries must have an electric motor, so if you don't rent one from us, you will need to provide your own.

Float guidelines

  • Your assembled float must be able to be lifted by our volunteers
  • No alcohol is allowed in the parade (This is a family event)
  • Use of ecycled materials is encouraged
  • Your should be able to assemble your float in four hours the morning of the parade, if not fully assembled beforehand
  • Float dimensions cannot exceed 16 feet by 8 feet.
  • Fire extinguisher must be on board if your craft uses flammable fuel
  • Life vests must be available for everyone on board, and anyone under 16 must wear one
  • Your float must have at least one electric motor.

While we value competition, the point of the parade is to have fun! The more the community of Healdsburg likes your float, the better.Prizes will be awarded based on the creativity of the float design.

  • First place = $1,000
  • Second place = two airline tickets from Santa Rosa to San Diego
  • Third place = $250

To apply for a spot in the parade, please email coordinator Liz Keeley at LizKeeley@yahoo.com with the subject line "Parade Entry" and include your name and phone number.

For more information, call Regional Parks at (707) 565-2041.

The present-day Healdsburg Water Carnival debuted in 2011 as a fundraiser for the summer dam that creates the Memorial Beach swimming area. When budget cuts threatened the dam's installation, Regional Parks partnered with the City of Healdsburg and Sonoma County Supervisor Mike McGuire to rally the community with a party based on river festivals of the early 1900s.

The event was recognized by the California Park and Recreation Society with a "Champion of the Community" award for Regional Parks.The fundraiser proved so popular it continues as an annual event.

The following is an excerpt from the article "SplashWater Carnival barrel races 1948 from the Past: 20th Century Water Carnivals of Healdsburg" by Holly Hoods, Healdsburg Museum Historian:

"Healdsburgers have always loved to party. The tradition of festive water pageants on the Russian River in Healdsburg dates back more than 100 years. Water carnivals evolved from popular land-based festivals, including May Day, Fourth of July and something called a Floral - sometimes “Flower” - Festival. Organizers of the water carnivals could innovate, but they liked to re-use the best ideas from well-established events. The key ingredients necessary for a successful river festival in the early 1900s were: music, dancing, parades, floats, queens, speeches, plentiful food and drink, feats of athletic prowess and beautiful decorations. Just add water."

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