Photos: Cracovians reclaim Vistula River with homemade boats in annual Wodna Masa Krytyczna celebration

Hundreds of Cracovians took to the Vistula River near Wawel Royal Castle Sunday afternoon on boats, rafts, air mattresses, and anything else that floats—alongside a gigantic inflatable ducky—for the the fourth annual Wodna Masa Krytyczna (Water Critical Mass). It was all set to music by jazz clarinetist Jerzy Mazzoll, who was also, of course, afloat.

The founders of the event, including cultural journalist Małgorzata Nieciecka, performance artist/activist Cecylia Malik, and community organizer Martyna Niedośpiał, have stated that the event is designed to promote the “reclaiming” of the river by ordinary citizens for transportation and recreation. The requirements for boating on the river are slight: you must be over 16, sober, with a life jacket. As of now, though, it is largely used for shipping barges and other commercial enterprises.

Wodna Masa Kryticzna began in 2012 and has become increasingly popular every year, garnering support from a  variety of student clubs and cultural groups.

The Vistula, the longest river in Poland, suffered from severe pollution in decades following the Second World War, with the sewage of nearly 1.5 million people being dumped into it by 1960. However, more recent environmental efforts have significantly improved the water’s purity, and it is home to a variety of rare plant and animal species—including, now, elephant-sized ducks.

Local photographer Agata Zu Jabłońska was on scene and captured the event for The Krakow Post. Click through the gallery below to check it out.

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