American River Party Culture

Informative story about it in the Sacramento News & Review.

An excerpt.

“It’s summertime in the sun-stewed waters that bottle Discovery Park, and the first giant river party of the summer is off and flowing.

“Clusters of nuzzling motorboats form bobbing islands of youthful indiscretion. Too $hort’s “Blow the Whistle” tweet-tweets as life-jacketed cops putter around on Jet Skis through a linked flotilla of buoyed watercrafts. Law enforcement regards the scene with a kind of stone-faced ennui as partiers hump the air until it whistles, jamming their fists skyward like they’re punching away God’s disapproval.

“Women spin on stripper poles, which boat-owners have cleverly mounted atop their vessels. Young men guzzle from red cups and cozy up to topless babes, whose nipples are covered only by strategically placed promotional stickers. Their fever will spread as the day stretches on and additional liters of ultra-light swill are quaffed.

“In the meantime, a chubby deejay perched on the upper level of the black-hulled monster boat injects energy into the carnival. “Aw, yeah! How’s everybody doing out here today!” he demands. “Rage on the fuckin’ rivah! … Yeah! Woo!”

“Woo” is a universal term in these slippery haunts, and it has numerous meanings, none of them too profound. With this particular incantation, the sweaty mix master is imploring his captive audience to party like there’s no tomorrow.

“Because there may not be.

“A month ago, some 3,500 drifting souls were drawn to a pearl-gray stitch of the lower American River for the third annual Rafting Gone Wild, a Facebook-driven event that outmaneuvers Sacramento’s holiday-drinking prohibitions on the river. The hordes partied hard and left our watercourse choking on beer cans, broken bottles and bodily fluids. And blood: There were dozens of fights, men hurled rocks at safety crews and the event quickly devolved into what one county ranger later called “a riot.”

“Rafting Gone Wild in July was so bad, law enforcement stopped trying to arrest people and instead focused on simply quelling the mob.

“The media had a field day, crowing about the two-dozen arrests and trashy brawls that hopscotched from one shoreline berth to the next.

“Those charged with keeping the peace differed only on how bad the scene actually got.

“As chief ranger Stan Lumsden remarked: “In my 31 years of law enforcement, it was the worst thing I’ve ever seen.”

“By comparison, Discovery Park’s Rage on the River in June enjoyed a much quieter day in the sun. Hundreds congregated on expensive motorboats and chic river cruisers to drink and dance their way into viral-video notoriety. YouTubes of floozies clapping their butt cheeks soaked the Interwebs. But no drunk bros were busted for scrapping with oars and rocks.

“Rage organizers hope to double down on their success with a Facebook-advertised sequel this Saturday, August 25, again at Discovery Park. But the flap over July’s Rafting Gone Wild—which recently led to the county board of supervisors expanding its alcohol-ban policy on the American River—means a higher profile and more derision for youth-centric events such as these.”

About David H Lukenbill

I am a native of Sacramento, as are my wife and daughter. I am a consultant to nonprofit organizations, and have a Bachelor of Science degree in Organizational Behavior and a Master of Public Administration degree, both from the University of San Francisco. We live along the American River with two cats and all the wild critters we can feed. I am the founding president of the American River Parkway Preservation Society and currently serve as the CFO and Senior Policy Director. I also volunteer as the President of The Lampstand Foundation, a nonprofit organization I founded in 2003.
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