While much of Sacramento grappled Saturday with how to beat the midday heat, relief was just a few feet away for the thousands of locals and visitors who spent Independence Day on the water.
The Sacramento and American rivers were packed with boaters who took to the water for a weekend of swimming, lounging and watching fireworks.
“You come up here, you get the lovely American River water,” said Paul Hairell of Sacramento, who spent the holiday on his boat “Beach Inn” anchored up from the confluence of the Sacramento and American rivers. “Fourth of July out here is being in the middle of the city and you don’t even know it.”
The rivers offer a variety of playgrounds. Jet skis ripped around the open waters Saturday. Kids braved a rope swing attached to a large cottonwood tree. As many as 2,000 people waded in the shallows near Discovery Park; many more along smaller encampments.
Victoria Chamara came with friends to Sacramento seeking heat. “We wanted to escape the cold San Francisco weather,” said Chamara while wading the water at Sandy Cove Beach. “I love it.”
Some boaters didn’t expect to leave their prepaid slots in the shadow of the Tower Bridge.
“This is our first year here; I’m loving it,” said Scott Cottingham, of Vacaville, who came by boat with his fiancee. On Friday night, he said, they took a dip in the river, watched the lighted boat parade and viewed the fireworks set off at nearby Raley Field. They spent Saturday tied to a public dock near Old Sacramento.
“It’s very convenient to have the docks here,” Cottingham said. “We are looking forward to the fireworks again tonight.”
Frank Enriquez, of Woodland, said he enjoyed experiencing the holiday at the Old Sacramento docks, but wished there was more dock space and a store boats could reach.
“It’s one of the best places around to be boating,” he concluded.
Hairell and his girlfriend, Alicia Ortiz, said they prefer a quieter spot.
“We come up here because down there things get a little wider,” Ortiz said. On Saturday, several other boats tied on to Hairell’s “Beach Inn” for socializing.
While a special holiday ban on alcohol cuts drinking on the portion of the American River typically used (and some say abused) by rafters, the ban does not affect boaters on the lower end of the American and the Sacramento River.
The rivers can present public safety hazards. Sonia Rangel Valencia, 36, of Sunnyvale died Wednesday after being pulled from the water during the Internet-organized “Rage on the River” event that brought hoards of boaters out to the American River. Authorities are not sure how Valencia and another unidentified women entered the water at the June 28 event. The second woman’s condition was not known Saturday.
Sacramento police also reported pulling a body out of the river Saturday at about 3 p.m. near the I Street Bridge. No further information was available Saturday evening.