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Hundreds of Whistleblowers Descend on St. Clair

VA Hospital Officials, Banking Chiefs and the Former Mayor of San Diego Flee the Country.

The residents of a sleepy little town in Michigan, St. Clair, which sits picturesquely on the St. Clair River, were jarred from their daily routines last week when the piercing sounds of hundreds of whistleblowers split peaceful the autumn air.

News of the gathering traveled to the heads of the Veteran’s Administration, the executive teams of several large banking institutions, and the former Mayor of San Diego, Bob Filner. The group booked plane tickets to Moscow, hoping to avoid any possibility of extradition.

All of their plans were in vain, however, as it turns out St. Clair was simply hosting the “Whistles on the Water” Festival for the sixth year in a row.

The annual event draws hundreds of visitors and participants who descend on the town where collectors gather to show off and blow their steam whistles in the city’s Palmer Park.

Steam whistle aficionados declare the festival as the top event in steam whistle exposition.

“We actually have a cult following on the boiler,” said Dan Lockwood, who helps produce the event. “Every year they keep improving the boiler.”

The large portable boiler, which produces the steam that powers the whistles and horns, holds 600 gallons of water with another 300 gallons held under pressure at 400 degrees Fahrenheit in an expansion tank.

Steam whistle owners attach their whistles to the boiler and when the operator pulls a lever opening a valve, the superheated water flashes into steam, said Dave Michelson, a steam enthusiast from New Baltimore.

“This is the largest boiler setup created exclusively for the blowing of whistles in the world,” he said. “And some of the whistles we’re blowing are some of the largest ever made.”

In order to protect their hearing, many people wear earmuffs, ear plugs and even stuff cotton into their ears, just so they can sit in the bleachers to enjoy the awesome sounds of a by-gone era.

One lady, Mary Jo Perkins, had her entire family at the event, including two grandchildren (one of whom had to hide across the street because she was afraid of the incredible noise).

Perkins herself had her ears stuffed with cotton.

“This is pretty awesome,” she said. “I had no idea – I’ve never seen anything like it.”

Mark Moir, of Chatham, Ontario, had his boat moored at the city’s municipal harbor.

“I love the city of St. Clair,” he said. “There’s always something to do in Palmer Park.”

He said it was his first time at Whistles on the Water.

“This is great,” he said. “I can only imagine having one of these on my boat.”