Dozens come out to float down the river in the Fourth of July Catawba River tradition

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) –It is the Fourth of July and despite the threat of rain, many are enjoying the holiday outside.

One of the many holiday traditions in the South Carolina area is to get a group of friends together and ride in tubes down the Catawba River. Tubing down the Catawba is an annual family fun activity that hundreds of people come out for.

The sounds of air pumps filled the air and the thick cloud of sunscreen left a sweet smell behind. People who have been out here know this could only mean one thing, which is floating on the river. The Catawba River Dam to Riverwalk float has been a Fourth of July tradition for years.

“It’s a good safe environment for people to be on the river with a tube. Not all places are like that,” says Melinda Keto, who floated on the river for the first time.

Bringing out tons of people ready to let the river be their guide for the day. People idly float from the Lake Wylie Dam down to Riverwalk Carolinas in the Rock Hill area. That is actually about a four-hour float down three and a half miles. of river. The dam is the launch point for many people where dozens pump up their floats, tie themselves together and get ready to have a great time.

But even the experienced ones still have issues.

”Getting in the water without falling out. When we first go out there I always fall out,” says one floater, who had been out for three times before.

But the calm waters also coaxed the first-timers out today, too.

“We’re actually from Asheville all of us so a friend of mine that I’ve known since I was six lives here in Charlotte so we invited us down and so here we are with our big 20 people going on the river,” says Keto.

Keto, her daughter and a friend tied their floats for the first time excited to embark on the river journey ahead. Although they had very different ideas of what fun could be had.

“When you’re with a group it’s a fun party environment and it’s kind of cool. It’s like taking your stuff mobile,” she says.

”We’re probably going to separate from them but being there with a friend is cool because like oh we can kind of do whatever we want on the river,” says her daughter.

This group might not be keeping every single part of this tradition alive, skipping the Riverwalk restaurants for the homemade food.

”We packed our peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. We came ready for whatever grub we wanted on the river,” says Keto.

They all agree that this is gonna be a fun float, but the one thing they cannot agree on, is snakes.

“Oh yeah I wanna see some snakes!” says Keto.

“I don’t like snakes,” says Keto.

If you think “that looks like fun,” don’t worry, tubing on the river is accessible year-round.

Now after people spend the entire day on the river, the tradition is to go to one of the restaurants at Riverwalk Carolinas. WBTV heard from a few people that went out early this morning who told us that tradition is still going strong.

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