(WWJ) Lots of events are canceled, but neither wind nor rain nor threat of debilitating illness could keep Jobbie Nooner from its multitude of fans.
Reporting live from the boat launch near Gull Island early on Friday -- very early -- WWJ's Charlie Langton said boats were already hitting the water for the annual bacchanal on the water known as Jobbie Nooner -- an event where boats, booze and nudity mix into a party that stretches all day. Hundreds, sometimes thousands, of boats raft off on Lake St. Clair and treat their decks like a floating dance party, moving from one to the next. Clothing is sometimes optional, boozing is expected.
While health officials urge the public to maintain social distance and wear masks in public to avoid the spread of COVID-19, supporters of the massive floating party say as long as the Sheriff's Department doesn't shut it down, it'll last all day.
Langton talked to Mallory Schultz of Bay City who was among those launching not long after the sun came up. "We've got the boats, we 'we've got the drinks, no COVID, so we're on a roll," she told Langton.
As for why was she there so early, Schultz said with a laugh, "You don't go to the strip club and sit at the back." Indeed.
The event's website says has been reminding people that, "The Mardi Gras of the Midwest is back for the 46th year." And while some assumed it would be canceled in the early days of the lockdown and pandemic, an event promoter wrote on Facebook last month, "What with the Coronavirus pandemic, lockdown, and all is Jobbie Nooner still going on in 2020????" an event promoter posted on Facebook. "The short answer is yes."
Nearly 200 people have market themselves as interested in the event on Facebook and another 300 have indicated they will attend. They'll head out into a beautiful day, but one that's expected to end in a flurry of wild storms.
Law enforcement will presumably urge boaters to head in before storms hit at 5 p.m., and the support arm of the event, known as the Jobbie Crew, urged people to attend in a way that's respectful to police. They also noted it's nearly impossible to shut down a massive boat party on the scale of Jobbie Nooner.
"These boat parties are ridiculously big and fun, I mean we’re talking 60-100K plus people at each one. The Jobbie Crew supports law enforcement & the military 100%. Please do not give them a hard time. If you’re cool, they’re cool. If you get out of line, they rightfully will do whatever they have to do to keep the peace.
"There is no way, even with dozens of various departments, that they have the budget, resources, or manpower to shut down boat parties, especially on a lake the size of Lake St. Clair, which is one of the biggest lakes in America. So please recognize that all the law enforcement agencies on LSC struggle with having an over-sized mandate of keeping this huge lake safe and in reality, only a very limited capacity to carry it out."
Deputy Steve Campau, a spokesman for of the St. Clair Sheriff's Office told freep.com, "The thing is, it's kind of an unmanageable event, and we have not endorsed it — ever. Our goal — and it has been for years — is to keep people alive."