SUTTER COUNTY — The ‘Rafting Gone Wild’ social media event that puts law enforcement on their toes each year is making yet another encore this year, but not in the usual spot on the American river.
This time, perhaps because of high river flows and uncertain conditions on the American River, the event is scheduled to happen in Yuba City on the Feather River on Saturday.
The Rafting Gone Wild event is responsible for the creation of an alcohol ban on the American River whenever it’s held.
Typically, the date is announced in a Facebook post just prior to the event.
While recent events have been orderly, local law enforcement will be out in force on the Feather River tomorrow.
June is typically when the event is held. In the past, it has drawn thousands of young people to the lower American River looking for a good time on or near the water, that included drinking as well as partying.
Medical emergencies, rowdy behavior and fights resulted in a strict alcohol ban on the river during the event.
Law enforcement has no experience with the event but is aware of its reputation.
“We are expecting a large crowd, we have Sutter County sheriffs, Yuba County sheriffs, Yuba City P.D. and of course Marysville P.D., said Lt. Manuel Cardoza, Maryville Police Department.
Sheriff boat patrols and rescue teams from several fire departments in the area have been placed on duty. That’s not to say they don’t want rafters to show up; after all the Feather River is a recreational asset.
A bigger concern is rafter safety because of construction on the 5th Street Bridge which is on the two-mile route.
While contractors have removed equipment anticipating the event, there are still obstacles above and below the water.
“There’s pylons the construction company still has in the river that are not too far below the surface and if somebody has a smaller raft, they would definitely do damage to the raft,” Cardoza explained.
In fact, an alternate put-in site, the boat ramp at Riverfront Park in Marysville will be closed for the day.
“We have officers down there to advise people that we would advise them to put out over in Yuba City because of the construction over the 5th Street Bridge and the levee project,” Cardoza said.
Another major concern is drinking on the river. It is allowed on the Feather River, but DUI and public intoxication violations will lead to citations.
Officers will be on shore to make sure that children have life vests on, something that is recommended for adults as well.
It’s important to note that the most recent Rafting Gone Wild events have been relatively well behaved all best with a lot of eyes on the event.
But an abundance of caution is being used tomorrow since this is the first time for the event in the Sutter/Yuba area.
“We want everyone to show up and have a good time, but obviously we want everyone to be safe,” Cardoza stated.
Of course, local officials say the event is good for the local economy but being a spontaneous social media event, they don’t know whether 50 people will show up or 1,000; they’ll be prepared none the less.