The Parker Tube Float kicked off Saturday morning with thousands of people pushing off from the shoreline and floating on inflatable tubes together for several hours. It was the second weekend marking the start of summer on the Parker Strip, and packed the river even more than Memorial Day weekend.
An estimated 10,000 to 12,000 people joined the party on the water Saturday according to law enforcement, starting at around 8am when the early birds started the float, with people filling the water throughout the morning and many still on the river by evening time. A breeze from the south slowed things up for many, and boats towed large parties of floaters to the finish line, the beach at BlueWater Resort & Casino.
A serious collision occurred near the entrance to La Paz County Park mid-morning, with one person being evacuated by medical helicopter with injuries. Although there’s no update on the patient’s condition, it is not believed to have gotten worse. Medical and Sheriff’s helicopters were spotted in the air at various times throughout the day.
Other than the road accident, only minor incidents were reported by law enforcement at the Float itself. Sheriff’s Lieutenant Curt Bagby said that for the numbers of people at the Float, the behavior was very good: “Arrests were pretty minimal, a couple of DUIs but nothing significant. Most people weren’t drawing attention to themselves, nobody was seriously hurt,” Bagby told Parker Live. “There are always a few fights, too, but nothing serious. And there are always a few people who get lost, people worry, and then they’re found someplace else.”
La Paz County Sheriff’s patrol boats were joined by patrols from Fish and Game, Colorado River Indian Tribes, U.S. Coastguard, San Bernardino County Sheriff, Buckskin Fire and other agencies, with volunteer patrol boats added for safety as they are every year. Other vessels on the water were owned by groups of floaters who brought them along to help tow.
One boat was packed with members of the band Moovalya, including full drum set and PA system. The band recorded video for a new music video to accompany their song Kings, from an upcoming EP due this Fall. (Link HERE or watch below.)
Instagram is full of photos from the event, including our selection below.
The annual event is a fundraiser for the Parker Area Chamber of Commerce. Chamber Director Mary Hamilton said her team had worked very hard on the event this year, and the facts and figures are still coming in. But overall, there is always a boost to the local economy and the event continues to grow.
One side-effect of the popularity of Tube Float is the trash left in the river by floaters, including grocery bags, ice chests, flip-flops, sunscreen bottles, lighters, bagged lunches, jello shot glasses, chip bags, balloons and liquor bottles. Efforts are made to encourage people to take trash with them, but it comes down to handfuls of volunteers the day after the event to help clean up when people don’t.
One group of river residents collected hundreds of pieces of trash early Sunday morning before the river got too busy to continue. Wendy Wynkoop, Steve Ziegler and John Croteau filled the back of a boat with just a portion of the litter they found in the river and said there needs to be a wider effort involving more people.
The Los Angeles NBC affiliate attended the 2016 event with cameras for a brief segment on Channel 4, and several other media outlets including radio stations were also at the event. Spankys RV & Marine had opened its new store on Riverside Drive only two weeks before, and it became a popular hub for people buying supplies and even event wristbands.
Weekends from now will be at a medium pace, with the next busy one on Fourth of July.