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Annual float later this month will take participants between Barton and Carver parks

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO: NICOLE STAVENAU - The fourth annual goth float on the Clackamas River is scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 18. Participants will float between Barton and Carver parks.

When people think of the gothic community, a day of floating on the river under the summer sunshine might not be what comes to mind.

But Nicole Stavenau has created an event in which the two blend seamlessly.

Stavenau, a member of the Portland gothic community, is the facilitator of the fourth annual goth float on the Clackamas River. The gathering is scheduled from noon to 5 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 18, at Barton Park, 19009 S.E. Barton Park Road. The group will float to Carver Park, 14888 S. Springwater Road.

"I wanted to do something that didn't just involve club nights or a show," Stavenau said. "There's a misconception about the gothic community, and we're about more than clubs and live shows. We enjoy being outdoors, especially in the Pacific Northwest."

Stavenau described the gothic community as "a group of people who at their core find beauty in things that may be seen as dark or macabre."

"For the majority of us that truly identify as goth, it's a way of life, in music, certain aesthetic choices in how we dress and decorate our homes and appreciation of fine arts and gothic literature," she said.

Stavenau estimated that 200 people participated in the goth float last year, and a similar turnout is expected this time around.

There are many positive aspects of the float.

"It's a way to get the community outside, and create an event where a lot of older goths with kids and families can bring them," she said. "The feedback last year was overwhelmingly positive."

She added that the event is also an opportunity to meet new folks.

"Sometimes it's hard to meet people at clubs and shows, and it can be harder to make friends as you get older," she said. "Community events bridge the gap between new people and people who have been here for awhile and want to welcome them."

Along with an afternoon of floating on the river, the event will also include a raffle for two tickets for the Vespertine Winter Ball, a formal gothic event later this year.

Stavenau noted that there will be a team of volunteers to ensure that everyone at the float stays safe.

One of the key elements of the event is its inclusive nature.

"If you're subcultural or otherwise different, it sometimes can feel a little isolating. When we get the community together, it's really a feeling of safety and camaraderie," she said.

She added that all are welcome at the float.

"There's not going to be a gother than thou measuring stick. It's not just for goths," she said. "It's open to anyone who wants to have fun and be accepted without the worry of judgment."

Stavenau noted that last year, a mother of someone who had recently joined the gothic community attended to meet new people and support her daughter.

"It really is a good mix of people," she said. "There's no ageism, sexism, body shaming or normal shaming."