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Alcohol Ban Helps Tame Annual Rafters Gone Wild On American River

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Anjali Hemphill Anjali Hemphill
Anjali Hemphill joined CBS 13 in June 2012 and she's happy to make the...
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SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – Sacramento’s “Rafters Gone Wild” weekend may not be as wild as it used to be thanks to this year’s booze ban.

Thousands hit the American River Saturday, but “No Alcohol” signs are why police say this year’s event was much safer than it has been in the past.

But law enforcement says a new alcohol ban kept the rowdy rafters on the tamer side.

“Last year we had somewhere in the neighborhood of 39 medical transports via ambulance from here, and we attribute a lot of that to alcohol and what happens when people consume too much,” said Metro Fire Capt. Bryan Thompson.

Thompson says this event usually has his crews bracing for the worst. He says last year some people were so drunk it put law enforcement in danger.

“Last year we had rocks thrown at us from these sites, and we had a firefighter that was hit in the head with a boulder,” said Thompson.

So this year deputies beefed up patrols to enforce the zero tolerance on alcohol. Around 20 arrests were made, most alcohol related. But they say that number is significantly less than last year.

“Some tried to sneak the alcohol in but the rangers and law enforcement were there to make sure that didn’t occur,” said Thompson.

Meanwhile some rafters were not happy about the ban and the strict enforcement.

” They are being unreasonable and they don’t want people to even have fun,” said one rafter.

But others who call the banks of the river home say the alcohol ban is working, while still allowing the rafters to have a good time.

“I’m happy because it’s safer for everybody, including the police,” said one resident. “Obviously it hasn’t stopped people from going to the event, so it’s a good thing.”

Metro Fire says it did respond to one water rescue, and four people were taken to the hospital for various issues.

Still, it was a much smaller number in attendance compared to last year’s more than 3,500 attendees.

Deputies say they did issue several citations throughout the day, but won’t know the exact total number until Monday.

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