For the fourth consecutive year, Sacramento County officials will ban alcohol on a portion of the American River during Saturday’s annual “Rafting Gone Wild” event.
More than 24,000 people have been invited to the Rafting Gone Wild 2016 event on Facebook, with more than 8,000 indicating that they plan to attend. The gathering, which Sacramento County officials called “a non-permitted event,” has overwhelmed deputies in the past. The 2012 event saw public and private property destruction, as well as 23 arrests.
“The event being advertised for Saturday has a strong focus on alcohol consumption, which contributes greatly to public safety concerns. As a result of the potential risks to the community including park visitors, rescue personnel and law enforcement, the Director of Regional Parks has issued an alcohol restriction for June 25, 2016,” reads a Sacramento County news release.
On the Rafting Gone Wild event page, in a section titled “What to Bring,” organizers recommend people come with rafts, sunscreen, food, life jackets and “BEER BEER BEER BEER BEER.” However, the event discourages people from bringing glass bottles or hard liquor to the river.
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“We do not want to be responsible for any IRRESPONSIBLE activity,” the organizers wrote, also reminding people not to drink if they are underage.
Michael Doane, chief ranger for Sacramento County Regional Parks, said the alcohol ban has been effective since the county began implementing it in 2013. The frequency of river rescues at Rafting Gone Wild has decreased, as well as the number of physical altercations, Doane said.
He added that alcohol is also prohibited in the area on Memorial Day, the Fourth of July and Labor Day, since these holidays being an influx of visitors to the park.
Since the county’s announcement Thursday morning, several people have registered their disappointment about the ban on Facebook.
On Saturday, alcohol will be restricted from Hazel Avenue to Watt Avenue. According to the county officials, the alcohol ban will be strictly enforced.
Doane said he and his staff of 26 rangers will be on patrol Saturday. When people approach the route departure area, rangers will give them an opportunity to either take their alcohol back to their cars or destroy it on site.
No citations will be issued to those who are compliant. However, rangers will also be traveling on the river on a boat, searching for rafts containing alcohol. If revelers sneak in alcohol and are later caught, they will receive a citation accompanied by a fine in the $50 range, Doane said.