Titus Cannon did a quick inventory before he hit the American River on Wednesday to join thousands of others for a July Fourth rafting trip.
Red Bull? Check.
Booze? Not a drop.
Cannon, a 21-year-old Sacramento State recreation major, was joining friends Ryan Smith and Hannah Robinson for a downstream trek from the Sunrise access point to William Pond Park, and none seemed to mind the alcohol ban in place now during the summer holidays.
"I think it's a good idea," said Smith, a 21-year-old criminology major at CSU Sacramento. "Usually, you wouldn't catch me on the water on a holiday anyways. It's smart."
Authorities banned drinking on the river during summer holidays five years ago between Hazel and Watt avenues, and the message appears to be getting across.
"This is beginning to form a trend," said Timothy McElheney, a Sacramento County park ranger who was at the Sunrise access point asking rafters for a peek inside their coolers and rafts. "People are getting the message."
In years past, it was common to see rafters who were inspected by law enforcement pouring out their precious cases of beer and wine coolers or trudging back to place them in their vehicles before hitting the water.
On Wednesday, there were few such incidents.
"We had a couple people trying to sneak beer in, but we just sent them back to their car," Chief Ranger Stan Lumsden said as he oversaw operations at the Sunrise access point, where most rafters launch.
"We'll migrate down the river later and kind of follow the problems," Lumsden added. "But I don't think we are going to have as many this year, because I'm seeing a lot of families."
With two drownings in the river in the past week, law enforcement and fire rescue officials were out in force Wednesday working to keep river-goers safe.
"It's pretty much all hands on deck," Lumsden said. "Every ranger will be out."
In addition, Sacramento sheriff's deputies were launching two boats Wednesday and a Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District rescue boat was patrolling the area near Sunrise as rafters began their journey.
Keeping alcohol off the water is a major focus, and Rancho Cordova police were helping rangers inspect the caravan of coolers headed to the water.
Still, officials conceded there was no way to stop rafters from slipping onto the river elsewhere with their beer.
Owen Remeika, a 24-year-old San Francisco man who rode to Sacramento on Wednesday in a party bus, said he wasn't worried about the ban, as he had started imbibing before arriving at the Sunrise beach, where he was playing Frisbee while wearing a large American flag as a cape.
"It's fun, it's a great way to spend a day," Remeika said before he boarded a rented raft. "Wednesday being the Fourth of July, it's a great way to spend America's birthday."
Police and rangers also noted that Wednesday's rafting holiday is just a dress rehearsal for the second annual "Rafting Gone Wild" event being promoted on Facebook and social media for July 14.
That event drew thousands of young people last year and, with booze allowed because it did not fall on a holiday, taxed the resources of agencies on both sides of the river.
"It was almost like a mass casualty incident," said Rancho Cordova Deputy Tyler Neff, who recounted working the event last year and walking from passed-out rafter to passed-out rafter asking if they were OK.
McElheney, the park ranger, recalled a similar scene watching drunken rafters staggering up the hill at River Bend Park where many rafts put out. "We called it 'the hill of death,' " he said. "One young man was passed out to the point where I couldn't revive him. Fire rescue finally had to."
A Facebook page promoting this year's event urges rafters to "build on last year's epic success and put the American River on the map ... again!"
"We are striving for a fun and SAFE trip," the page adds.
Law enforcement expects a major effort to keep things under control that Saturday, but their immediate focus Wednesday was making sure the July Fourth float remained safe.
For some officials, the biggest concern was trying to persuade rafters to wear life jackets rather than just dump them in their boats and use them as cushions.
Boaters were reminded that anyone rafting the river must have a life jacket with them even if they don't wear them, and that anyone under 13 must wear one on the water.
"A 6 mph current has the same force as a 150 mph wind on your body, it exerts that kind of force, and plus it's cold," said David Oster, a Sac Metro Fire volunteer with the Community Emergency Response Team who was helping hand out free loaner life jackets.
The response was mixed. Some people gladly accepted them; others marched by insisting they don't need one.
"They almost act like we're bothering them some of the time," Oster said.
Sacramento State student Titus Cannon was pretty sure he and Hannah Robinson didn't need one. Although their friend Ryan Smith was geared up in his kayak with a helmet and a life jacket, they were headed off in their raft without.
"We don't need any we're pretty good swimmers," Cannon said. "She's a lifeguard, and if I fail to be able to swim, I'm pretty sure she could save me."
Metro Fire Battalion Chief William Turner said he's heard it all before. Although people are more receptive these days to the safety message, many still believe they have little to fear from the cold, deep river.
"We do what we can, you know?" Turner said.