Jobbie Nooner lake party gets a boost after two down years

Shawntay Lewis
The Detroit News

Gull Island — The Jobbie Nooner party on Lake St. Clair got a boost Friday with clear skies and hot weather, a sharp departure from last year's rain-soaked event.

The 48-year-old annual tradition of playing hooky from work to party on the water benefited from clear skies and temperatures hitting the low 90s.

The crowd didn't appear to be back at pre-pandemic levels, but was good enough for newcomer Tom Wallen of Wyandotte.

Pleasure boats are tied up to one another surrounding Gull Island during the annual Jobbie Nooner bacchanal on Lake St. Clair.

Wallen said he attended with friends who had been before. He had heard it was fun.

"I've heard a lot of good things and a lot of bad things about it, but it sounded like a good time," he said.  

Wallen and his friends were staying away from the shore, where a majority of the boaters parked.

"They told me to stay away from the crowd a little bit out here," Wallen said. "We're just rafted off and hanging out."

Macomb County Sheriff's officers were telling multiple jet ski operators to slow down as they came speeding through some of the boaters. A variety of flags flew on the sterns of boats as a crowd began to fill one side of island around noon and throughout the afternoon. 

The marine division of the Macomb County Sheriff's Office patrolled the area along with the state police. Local fire departments and EMS units from local townships were also on hand. 

Jobbie Nooner revelers apply sunscreen on their boats at Gull island on Friday, June 24, 2022.

"We expect a lot of boat traffic," Macomb County Sheriff's Sgt. Renee Yax said, adding that officers also will use jet skis.

Crowd sizes were insignificant to Jobbie Nooner party veteran Michael Camargo from St. Clair Shores. 

Last year the party was small due to the rain, but the weather on Friday was nice although the crowd wasn't as large as usual, Camargo said.

"I came last year and it was raining, so there wasn't a lot of people," Camargo said. "But the last couple of years have kind of fell off."

Macomb County Sheriff's deputies patrolling the island said it was quiet all morning, even with the heavy presence of alcohol.

In 2021, parts of Metro Detroit got hit with torrential rains that caused flooding in portions of Wayne, Washtenaw and Macomb counties. Fewer than a quarter of the normal 10,000 people who flock to Gull Island and the surrounding waters showed up, Yax said last year.  

Pleasure boats are tied up to one another surrounding Gull Island during the annual Jobbie Nooner bacchanal on Lake St. Clair.

Attendance was also down in 2020, when the weather was sunny but Michigan was about five months into the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Camargo said he was going to enjoy the celebration regardless.

"It's a beautiful day, and we're just going to hang out and grab some cocktails," Camargo said. 

The Jobbie Nooner, held near the mouth of the St. Clair River at Lake St. Clair, was started in 1974 by auto workers who described themselves as “jobbies."

The event, which is held on the last Friday of June, annually draws about 10,000 boaters and more than 100,000 people. A Jobbie Nooner 2 occurs the first Saturday after Labor Day.

slewis@detroitnews.com