Booze ban gives river partiers good reason for a staycation this Memorial Day weekend

This probably will not be the scene this weekend, but come July, hoo boy.


Heading into Memorial Day weekend, all is quiet on the social media front.

The summer season kickoff traditionally draws large crowds to water bodies and ways in and around Sacramento County. While this three-day weekend should be no different, regional parks officials aren’t expecting a youth-driven bender like the one that turned last July’s Rafting Gone Wild event into a brawling, puking, river-polluting scandal.

“I think it’s going to be your average Memorial Day weekend,” chief ranger Stan Lumsden told SN&R. “We’ve been monitoring social media, but haven’t heard anything.”

Facebook and other social media platforms are where RGW got its crowd-mojo going in previous summers. The fact that its planners are avoiding Memorial Day weekend isn’t a surprise.

Summer’s three big holiday weekends—Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day—are when the county enforces temporary alcohol bans to cut down on shenanigans. And kids love shenanigans.

“I think they avoid these weekends because of the alcohol ban,” Lumsden said of the 20-something audience drawn to RGW and its “classier,” more upscale cousin, Rage on the River.

Rage, which didn’t experience any problems last year, is already set for June 30 at Discovery Park, while Rafting Gone Wild organizers are getting their druthers set for a “secret date” in July.

They’re being cagey for a reason.

After last year’s debacle, in which dozens of hard-partiers were detained and arrested, county supervisors empowered their regional parks director to ban alcohol on the river during targeted events. Keeping this year’s date secret is an attempt to outmaneuver county officials.

While Lumsden’s staff of sworn rangers is up from eight last year to 12, the undersized crew still has 23 miles of parkland to monitor. Other agencies assist with patrolling the American and Sacramento rivers. And it’s all hands on deck any time something big is planned.

“Everyone knows they’ll be working,” the chief ranger said.

While booze won’t be tolerated this weekend, they’ll get a reprieve the following one at Folsom Lake, which is hosting the Big Wake Weekend boat expo May 31-June 2.

Organizers of “California’s premier beach picnic and party” are promising racing Hydroplanes and pro wakeboarding, live music, beer gardens and “30,000 of your friends,” according to radio spots promoting the three-day event.

General admission tickets range from $19 to $79.

So if the drunks want to play, they’ll have to pay.

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