"He's drunk off his ass...wavin' his dick around," said one SDPD officer to another as he pointed to a young man wearing a thong and wading through the waters at Fiesta Island's "Enchanted Cove" on May 8.
"Floatopia," another beer-drinking event with a floating problem, began at 11 a.m. and was expected to continue through 7 p.m. Hundreds of 20-somethings drifted on neon flotation devices while others made out, or were passed out, on the sand (one on the hood of a car). A few brawny specimens wrestled while others signed tickets for drinking alcohol on the beach as well as for displays of public intoxication. A fire engine, several police cars, a lifeguard vehicle, and an ambulance waited at the edge of the dusty, one-way Fiesta Island road.
SDPD stated there were approximately 700 participants at this event; approximately 5000 turned out for the previous Floatopia, held March 20 at Sail Bay in Mission Beach.
"Generally, a peaceful, decent crowd...looks like everybody's having a good time," said an officer at 4:35 p.m. Captain Chris Ball with the SDPD responded to my request for comment regarding the event. The following is an excerpt from his response:
"The police department, lifeguards...we do not support drinking and swimming, drinking, and bathing, and certainly drinking and going out on floats. We've had a number of close calls out here today. A few people are suffering from hypothermia. This water is 62 degrees. Some people have been in it for four, five, six hours, and there are a number of people who have had way too much to drink.
"The other piece of this is we have substantial resources out here — again, fire, police, and lifeguards. Whereas, from a police-department standpoint, all of the officers that we have here are on duty. There may be other things that we could have them doing as opposed to standing out here babysitting a crowd of young people who are exploiting — and that's all they're doing, they're exploiting — a loophole in the law."
I asked Captain Ball what his thoughts were on having a police-monitored, designated area of beach, perhaps called "Beer Beach," where alcohol could be legally consumed.
"We were just talking about that...one way in, one way out...works for me. From an SDPD and lifeguard viewpoint, this just does not make sense," said Ball pointing to the hundreds of people. "We're exploring ways to maybe, maybe close this loophole in the law."
To hear Ball's comments and to watch a video of Floatopia click here.