Our organization does not support alcohol bans on the Parkway, as noted in the Sacramento Bee for this weekend, preferring ongoing law enforcement presence when needed.
The Lower American River through the Parkway is a major recreational rafting location and discouraging people from using it is discouraging business and recreation to an area always needing infusions of cash and people.
Instead, Sacramento should embrace the partygoers, just as other areas embrace seasonal infusions of people and cash like Spring Break in Florida and motorcycle week in Sturgis, South Dakota.
Bottom line, our Parkway and the river running through it is special and we should extend the invitation to all to enjoy it, while providing enough law enforcement so that all feel safe and have a good time.
An excerpt from the Bee article.
Sacramento County officials have decided to ban alcohol on a portion of the American River on Saturday to prevent any risk to the public from the “Rafting Gone Wild” event.
In 2011, a sandbar known as Gilligan’s Island was a main gathering point for drunken revelers during Rafting Gone Wild. Last year, more than 3,000 people took part in the event, with 23 people arrested.
Witnesses described deputies and rangers having difficulty keeping up with the large and chaotic crowd. Fights erupted on the riverbanks and rocks were thrown at rafters, they said.
County parks officials predict that the same unsafe circumstances could occur Saturday if alcohol were allowed. To forestall any destruction of property or injury, county Director of Parks Jeff Leatherman issued the alcohol restriction Thursday.
“This is based on our experience last year,” Leatherman said. “Last year, when people became more and more intoxicated, they began fighting with each other and fighting with law enforcement.”
Leatherman said the decision to ban alcohol was based on viewing social media, where the event is posted, and speaking with law enforcement. It appeared that this year’s Rafting Gone Wild would also be alcohol-fueled.
As of Thursday afternoon, the Rafting Gone Wild 2013’s Facebook page showed more than 7,600 people had been invited to the event, with nearly 1,500 people responding that they planned to attend and 315 indicating they might be there.
News reports of the alcohol ban were posted on the site by early afternoon to the dismay of many commenters.
“It’s no longer going to be rafting gone WILD!,” said Desirea Legrande. “It’s just gonna be a sober float lol.
Legrande said she would rather go to a spot she knew of on the river where alcohol was allowed and that wouldn’t be crowded with police.
The ban was issued for the American River from Hazel Avenue to Watt Avenue.
“If there’s no alcohol allowed then why go?” asked Zack Fischer.
Other commenters suggested ways they might sneak booze onto the parkway.
County park rangers, Rancho Cordova police and Sacramento County sheriff’s deputies will be stationed at all park locations along the American River Parkway to enforce the ban.