(Rafting Gone Wild/Facebook)
It began as a peaceful–if boozy–float down a California river for thousands of rafters.
But according to the Sacramento Bee, Saturday’s “Rafting Gone Wild” event on the American River “degenerated into a series of brawls this afternoon with dozens of rafters fighting each other with oars and rocks and hurling stones at deputies on the scene.”
More than 3,500 tubers–many with floating coolers stocked with beer–turned out for the second annual event on Saturday, officials said. At about 5 p.m. local time, approximately 50 rafters began fighting on a beach area along the river, Sacramento Metropolitan Fire Dept. deputy chief Scott Cockrum told the newspaper, “beating each other with paddles or rocks and hurling stones at fire and rescue boats.”
According to KCRA-TV, there were at least 12 arrests on Saturday stemming from the brouhaha.
“There are so many intoxicated people it’s like ridiculous,” Marisa Taylor, a floating 20-year-old, told the paper.
“It started out fairly reasonable, but as they day went on, the drunkenness and the fights increased with them,” Randy Lewis, a Sacramento County park ranger, added.
Law enforcement officials had been bracing for rafting to go wild for a while. About 100 people were injured during last year’s “Rafting Gone Wild” event, held on the same river in August, and 10 people were arrested, the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office said.
Earlier Saturday, at least 60 police and fire officials were monitoring the event, and according to KCRA, “the water was much calmer Saturday than it was during last year’s event.”
But “even the most serene setting can turn ugly, given enough time and alcohol,” the Bee said.
According to park rangers, the “raftapalooza” was created in response to a Fourth of July alcohol ban.
“Enjoy the river!” Michelle Cavalari wrote on the Rafting Gone Wild’s Facebook wall. “Just remember to be responsible with recyclables and garbage so the river fun can continue for everyone!”