Sunday is the warmest day this month and hundreds of people are cooling off along the American River.
Sacramento County park rangers are busy enforcing a strict ban on booze. Despite plenty of signage, some people tried sneaking in beer, wine and even non-alcoholic glass bottles — all of which are not allowed.
“People can get very creative when they hide the alcohol,” said Chris Kemp, a park ranger sergeant. “We’ve had them in coolers with false bottoms. We’ve had them hidden in backpacks, inside of Camelback pouches on their bodies in various places in different types of containers so we know what to look for,” Kemp said.
Partygoers caught in the act were given the option of taking their contraband back to their cars or watching rangers pour it out. Getting caught with booze this weekend could lead to a $100 citation.
The 10 rangers on patrol were determined to keep people on the American River safe from drowning and vigilant in enforcing the message that alcohol and water just don’t mix.
“Yeah, I think it’s probably a good thing to keep everybody safe out here,” said Andrew Ray, a kayaker from San Francisco.
For Billy Balogh of Roseville, the no-alcohol rule makes for a better family experience for his 8-year-old daughter Alexandra.
“I think it’s a good idea,” Balogh said. “Nobody’s going to fall in the water. People are going to be more aware and keep an eye on things going on in the water. And it’s just safe overall for everybody.”
But not everybody is enamored with the ban on booze.
“I mean I feel I can handle myself responsibly, drinking a couple of beers on a hot Memorial Day weekend,” said Diana Takla, a rafter from Walnut Creek. “I don’t know what the problem is.”
“With alcohol intoxication it lowers your threshold for tolerating hypothermia,” Kemp said. ”
“People when they drink a lot of alcohol, they can hit the water and become very disoriented and very hypothermic, and it leads to a lot more drownings. And we don’t want to see that out here,” Kemp said.
Meanwhile rafters on the American River are enjoying higher water flows, thanks to bigger releases from Folsom Lake.
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