Preparations for the fourth Raftapalooza have been underway in Colchester, Vt. for months.
The town recently got involved to increase safety measures at Thayer Beach during the event, and one of the organizers is helping to cover some of the costs.
The all day beach party isn’t a town sanctioned event, it’s organized by a couple of locals.
Colchester Police say about 15 marine units from numerous law enforcement agencies will be deployed for the party. Chief Jennifer Morrison says the department is concerned about what happens on the water as well as on land.
“The area where the event takes place, Thayer Beach and Rossetti Park, is actually not very big and not designed for crowds of that size in any way. “There’s no parking capacity, so last year we had a lot of concerns with people parking on private property,” Chief Morrison said.
Nearly 1,200 people went last year and the Colchester Police Department is expecting at least twice as many to show up this year. Police want everyone to have fun, but to be safe.
“People think of it as tailgating at a football game or something, but you forget that you’re in 5 or 6 feet of water,” Cpl. Mike Akerlind from Colchester Police said. “A simple slip and fall can have a much more tragic end to it than someone tripping in a parking lot. So it’s just being on the water, being safe.”
In a June meeting with the town, Raftapalooza organizer Jeremy Dewyea tried to reassure residents who were concerned about parking and trash.
A team of volunteers will be helping to keep people safe at event and to aid with clean up after it.
“We’ll be out Sunday as well with the team of people picking up garbage and cleaning up anything. We’ve already prepared to do all of that,” Jeremy Dewyea, the founder and organizer of Raftapalooza, said. “We’ll also have a trailer down here at the bottom of Rossetti Park for people to use, to put their garbage in, that kind of stuff.”
In an agreement with the town, Dewyea has also raised about $5,000 to help cover costs of the marine units working at the event.
Storms are in the forecast. Dewyea says there isn’t a rain date at this time if the party is canceled because the event permit with the U.S. Coast Guard is only for one day. There’s a Facebook event page that Dewyea says will be updated if anything with the event changes.