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Party in the sun at the sandbar

John Benson • May 12, 2015 at 6:28 PM

Want to go?

WHAT: Sandusky Bay Barge Party

WHEN: 10 a.m. July 30

WHERE: Sandusky Bay Sandbar

COST: Free, but donations to keep the barge party going are encouraged

INFO: Funcoast.com or sanduskybaybargeparty.com

Like an oasis of spring break fun for adults, think festive beer commercial come to life, the Sandusky Bay Barge Party, which takes place July 30 at the Sandusky Bay sandbar, is something to behold.


Averaging over 1,000 boats and 5,000 wet-and-wild partygoers over the past few years, this unique summer soiree has become the Go Coast event for locals and vacationers. In a nutshell, Shepherd’s Shoreline Construction’s Shaun Bickley takes one of his large barges to the popular sandbar, which straddles Lake Erie and the Sandusky Bay. A live band rocks the barge, while food is grilled for purchase.


“What it is, we clear the decks of one of our barges, we put carpet down and a bandstand and put on a live band and generators,” Bickley said. “We also put on a couple of stripper poles. We can announce those as dancing aerobic poles. We also have a bikini contest with first prize being $300, second prize is $50 and third prize is an exclusive barge party t-shirt.”


The Sandusky Bay Barge Party extravaganzas started as earnest failures in 2006 and 2007 with Lake Erie’s choppy waves marring Huron events. Then in 2008 the get-together made its Sandusky sandbar debut, proving to be an overwhelming success. Not only does the sandbar act as a barrier to the waves but the northwest side of the peninsula has a flat bottom allowing partiers easy access to the barge.


This summer’s first Barge Party was held in June. Bickley estimates 2,500 to 3,000 boaters came out with a coldwater temperature and morning rain keeping the crowd number small. This time out Bickley is hoping for Mother Nature’s sun. In fact, he’s so optimistic he said he’s upping the ante from the normal 50-foot barge to the massive 80 footer. The entire endeavor he said is a money loser – they pass the hat for donations but usually that covers half the cost – but he chalks it up as a way to give back to the community.


“The boating community at large are awesome, awesome people,” Bickley said. “People who haven’t been out should do so. They should come out to see friends, make friends and have a great party. We do cook out there, hamburgers, brats and hotdogs. I like to have the food out there for the jackass who is wasted. I really strongly stress you need to have a sober skipper. So come out, have a sober skipper and the rest of you have a riot.”


The Sandusky Bay Barge Party takes place at 1 p.m. July 30 at the Sandusky Bay sandbar. For more information on how to really live it up at the Barge Party check out our story "Do the barge party the right way" or visit sanduskybaybargeparty.com.

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