Public packs boardroom to talk about future of the Parker Tube Float

Trash and trouble? Or income and opportunity? What the Parker Tube Float represents depends greatly on whether you’re the owner of a home or of a business.

img_0544

Members of the public packed the boardroom at the La Paz County Board of Supervisors Monday afternoon to talk about the future of the Parker Tube Float, the annual floating party that helps kick off summer on the Parker Strip each June.

For 39 years, the Tube Float has been its own holiday weekend, in recent years outpacing other big weekends like Memorial Day and Labor Day by the numbers. But earlier this year, the other big Float on the Colorado River, the Bullhead City River Regatta, was canceled after it was deemed to have gotten irredeemably out of control, a decision which has cast fresh light on the ‘side effects’ of the Parker event.

Homeowners along the route of the Float took to the boardroom podium to describe belligerent, intoxicated participants, mountains of trash, invasions onto private property, taxed law enforcement agencies, altercations, expenses including the cost of hiring private security guards, and environmental destruction.

Mary Hamilton of the Parker Area Chamber of Commerce, which organizes and runs the Float, said she was glad for the opportunity to discuss the event as a community, including all the perspectives of the people who want the event to be cancelled.

“Any complaints that have come into my office haven’t fallen on deaf ears, I can promise you,” she told the packed boardroom. “We are listening. We have hired security for known trouble spots and evidently that didn’t make a dent in the problems on docks and shores. We have a very small base of volunteers, our 3 most active volunteers are over 65. If this event is going to continue, we need help.”

tube-float-_8643

The economic returns for the community are significant, with the Tube Float bringing several thousand people to the river that weekend in June, a shot in the arm to a business community that relies on seasonal influxes. But as the Float has grown in size, it has become more challenging to control.

For the past few years, the event has started at La Paz County Park and finished at BlueWater Resort & Casino. On the way, it passes many riverfront homes, including large subdivisions like Miraleste Shores, Moovalya Keys and Keys II. It also crosses into the Colorado River Indian Tribes reservation and passes homes on its stretch of riverfront. Some of the homeowners in those areas were lively as they spoke of the skirmish the event has become for them.

tubefloatquote1

THE PROBLEMS

“I’ve been coming to the river for 25 years and live here now,” said one resident. “I want to oppose this event completely. That river is destroyed, literally a wreck after the event.”

Another said they had a lot invested in their river home. “I loved the Tube Float seven years ago. I’ve hated it for the last few years.”

She said she had glass and garbage all over her property. “We decided we can’t leave our house alone during Tube Float. A guy virtually threatened my sister for not allowing us to use our bathroom.”

The homeowner had to hire a private security guard at their own expense during the day of the Float. “The Tube Float is out of control and you’re not going to be able to bring it back.”

A third got up to describe an altercation on a dock a few years ago, and added to the chorus complaining about trash. “Mary [Hamilton] took the time to look at the trash at my house,” he said. “There were dozens of cans and bottles and other debris on the riverbed. I’ve had violence at my house, a guest at my house was so upset they won’t come back.”

Well-known water-skier Mike Mack also said he has a problem with the Float, saying that people call him a rich “blank” for having a house on the river, to which Mike commented that when he first got to Parker he lived in his car.

“The Tube Float doesn’t seem to work,” he said. “A twelve-hour float? I just don’t see it working.”

tubefloatquote2

SOME SOLUTIONS

There was some support for potential solutions mentioned too, by resort owners, business owners and others in attendance Monday. Some voiced their sadness at such an iconic event in the Parker area going away, and urged less talk of eliminating the event and more talk about controlling it.

“What if you start at Buckskin and end at La Paz County Park?” one resort owner asked. In this version, there would be less housing to pass. However, according to Chamber staff, this route has been tested and the shape of the river is not conducive to the river float, so there could be significant trade-offs involved in changing the start and finish lines.

“Most of the problems are caused by people who aren’t registered in the event,” he added. Various ways of trying to ensure that fewer unregistered participants are floating were mentioned, but law enforcement agents were skeptical that there would be an effective control method.

One business owner who said their income from the event is very good added that they would be willing to contribute to picking up the bill for the event, saying that it’s a love-hate relationship for them too, but that it’s good for the area economy.

Among the potential tweaks:

  • Collecting money and issuing wristbands for the event at the gate instead of inside the park to maximize revenues and increase fairness
  • Raising the cost of entry from $10 to $20, hoping to cap participant numbers and generate more revenue
  • Paying for security guards for homes
  • Hiring trash collectors to work the event and post-float
  • Increasing numbers of volunteers to free up law enforcement response
  • Increasing sponsorship revenue from local and commercial partners

“For the most part, it was a very constructive meeting,” Mary told Parker Live. “Our organization understands the issues that the residents in those areas have, we really do. No decisions have been made at this point, we need input from the Tribes as well. That’s very important.”

Work on the Parker Tube Float usually begins in earnest at Chamber offices each January. Any decisions about changes to the event will be approved by the Chamber Board of Directors in the coming weeks, according to Mary.

“I’m so grateful to the County Board of Supervisors for facilitating this work session and for everybody for coming to give us their input.”

Have an opinion on the Float? Share it with the Parker Area Chamber of Commerce HERE.

42 comments

  1. Justin Keep

    Please please don’t cancel this event.

  2. Brian Gwin

    In my opinion it’s gotten out of hand. Instead of regulating the event more, just don’t have it anymore. Maybe in a few years they will respect it more and people will respect having it again. You shouldn’t have to hire security and trash pickers after an event like this.

  3. Süd Schiller

    give the municipal parasites administrative leave for it!

  4. It’s a miracle that no one has drowned during the tube float. Coast Guard permit requirements and common sense dictate that life jackets should be worn. But no one enforces it and they even let people in the water at the start without one. Even small children don’t wear them. It’s impossible to police. You can’t kick 10,000 people off the river.

    And let’s look beyond the trash and garbage, into actual water pollution. An average person will eliminate approx 1/2 gallon of urine during the day. (Probably more with all the beer consumed) Multiply that by 10,000 people and you have 5,000 gallons or more of raw urine going into the River. Not to mention “floaters”, and I don’t mean the people in tubes. If someone pulled up in a tanker truck and dumped 5,000 gallons of raw sewage into the River, they’d be arrested and face serious felonies, both state and Federal. This is your drinking water, folks.

  5. Netera LeMaster

    Just a suggestion maybe just cancel for one year

  6. Parker Live Updates

    I’m not sure I agree with the statement, “You shouldn’t have to hire security and trash pickers after an event like this.” All big events attended by thousands of people have trash and security needs. Think about music festivals, sports events, carnivals and whatnot. Every one of them requires a plan for trash, a plan for security and much else. Shouldn’t Tube Float be thought of similarly, with similar levels of funding allocated to those things?

  7. Brian Gwin

    Parker Live Updates You have thousands of people that visit the river on every other weekend and don’t have an issue with trash and security. The boating community, primary residents, and vacation home owners are not in favor of this 1 off weekend that brings this type of crowd. It does more hurt than good. I know many people that purposely don’t come to the river that weekend who would normally because of the way the float has become.
    Great debate btw!

  8. Russell Gonzalez

    As a homeowner that rents out the place when I’m not in town, it’s two fold. On one hand, my place is rented every year at holiday rates for 3 days. On the other hand, people get out of control. I’m actually not renting it that weekend this year and we are going out because people get too drunk and break stuff. I was told last year that the renters we running around naked. People need to respect the river and not dump their trash and beer cans/bottles in the water.

  9. Andy Neill

    Respect the Homeowners, Respect the River – cancel the event

  10. Cancel it I’m sure there are OTHER MEANS TO COLLECT REVENUE IT HAS GROWN TOO BIG FOR THE CHAMBERS TO HANDLE AS WELL AS OUR TOWN THE PEOPLE WHO LIVE BY THE RIVER HERE IN PARKER DEAL WITH A LOT JUST FROM THE SUMMER BOATERS, TUBE FLOAT SHOULD BE NO MORE THINK OF OTHER WAYS TO MAKE YR MONEY .

  11. Cancel it please.

  12. Everyone talks finances. Chamber makes money. Casino makes money. CRIT makes money. Town and County makes money (sales and hotel bed taxes). Park makes money, Businesses make money. Everyone makes money, except for the people (agencies) who actually have to work, service and oversee the event. Police, Sheriff, Fire Depts, Public Works, Parks, etc. have to be out in force to prepare for and monitor and clean up after, the event. They have to bring additional people on duty, on overtime. The Sheriff uses special grant funds, such as Highway Safety/DUI grants, to pay for the Deputies, but this burns down the funds on just a couple of events (Tube Float, Off Road Races, etc.), when the funds should be being used for Holiday Weekends, DUI/OUI saturation Patrols and checkpoints. Or the employees working just gain “comp time” which they can never take, due to staffing levels.

    The County (and Town of Parker, too) should budget a “special event fund” paid for by hotel bed taxes and “bonus” sales taxes from these event weekends. Then Public Works employees, Law Enforcement, Parks employees, etc. could be paid through that, rather than just building comp time or max out Agency overtime accounts. Or, as they did for the Bullhead Tube Float, make the Sponsor pay for the assistance. It was one thing when the Chamber only made $6,000 to $8,000. But now they’re pulling in $40,000-$50,000, plus most of the what County and City bring in Hotel Bed taxes, which I believe is tens of thousands more to the Chamber and Tourism.

  13. Annette Posada

    I had a blast looking forward to next year but we pack out what we brought in but everyone is not the same hope it does not get cancelled.

  14. Candi Evans

    Every other weekend there are not thousands of people that visit the river, we’re lucky if we get a few hundered on holiday weekends and those weekends we for sure have a problem with security and trash. There is no reason why we shouldn’t be charging these tubers the cost for all the services provided to them for this weekend. Up the price of entry. Maybe if it was more controlled residents wouldn’t be so opposed to it. And there are many residents that know we’ve had this tube float for several years just like we have off road races, motocross races which may keep some locals home away from traffic in town. But locals are at the tube float every year with friends and family.

  15. Candi Evans

    Sad that good people like you who have always rented your place for the weekend feel this way due to unstable people who can’t stay away from drugs or handle their alcohol. People need to grow up and become responsible for their own actions.

  16. Candi Evans

    There are many home owners in this town that attend the tube float. Yes I agree some home owners have dealt with a bunch of drunk rude noisy people that they shouldn’t have to deal with docking on their docks just to run across the road to Circle K for beer or what ever. Private docks need to be closed off some how, more patrol up and down the river both on land and water. Our law enforcement does an outstanding job with their staff how ever it’s not enough. This would be a good weekend to get the coast guard down hear or even the national guard for security and help in keeping people safe and off of other peoples properties.

  17. Aaron Schumann

    Wtf?????!!!! 😠😠😠 fuckin picky complaining bastards are gonna take this one away as well??!! 🖕🖕🖕

  18. Deia Schumann

    Aaron Schumann hahaha! People ruin it for the good, responsible floaters

  19. Aaron Schumann

    Fuckin awesome… so now due to irresponsible, drunken idiots who have no respect… the Laughlin Regatta (my favorite of the 2) has already been cancelled, and now plan B is under attack as well??! Thanks a ton to all the morons! Fucking up everyone else’s good time.. this one’s for yall!! 🖕🖕🖕

  20. Aaron Schumann

    Yea, that was a knee jerk reaction, lol.. my other comment is more on point

  21. Deia Schumann

    these events should be 21 and over

  22. Deia Schumann

    the entire weekend should be

  23. Deia Schumann

    the article was great but reading the homeowners complaints, I’d be ticked off at some of the behavior as well. people use the floats as means to get drunk and act an ass! it stinks..but, I see both sides

  24. Deia Schumann

    This is exactly what happened to the Bullhead City Regatta. I think these events should be 21+ over and STRICTLY ENFORCED. There is underaged, out of control drinking and people are just lazy and don’t pick up after themselves.

  25. Deia Schumann

    obvi! lol…I knew you’d be super bummed.

  26. Aaron Schumann

    Screw it… we’ll just have our own personal float, lol

  27. Deia Schumann

    Aaron Schumann get killed messing around in Parker! LOL

  28. Tim Stevens

    I’m loving all the feedback… It’s great to see the Parker community saying respect the water and the people. I feel it has gotten a little out of control… But that just only means that the people who host this event need to step up their game ….. As events get bigger, sooo does the responsibility

  29. Jim Beaver

    The problem is, and no one has mentioned it, is that this is a fundraiser for the Chamber of Commerce. I will also mention that the Chamber is a not for profit. The Tube Float, good or bad, is the major source of funding to keep our Chamber running year to year. If the Tube Float goes away, our Chamber and the 3 employees that work there, will have a hard time keeping the doors open. Because Parker is such a small community, it’s not like the Chamber can just go and get more members and offset the financial loss of Tube Float because most community minded businesses are already members and there is a limited amount in our community to begin with. So for those of you just saying “get rid of it,” I ask you how do you plan on keeping the doors to the Chamber open and keeping its 3 employees with jobs?

  30. The people who do want to help, like the patrol boats, are not backed up. The “junior” sheriffs on small water crafts, are to busy looking than doing. The people who are supposed to stay on the California side, decide they need to bring their big boat to the Arizona shoreline. back in, with a big prop to pull tubes from getting stuck. There you have another problem. Why have patrol boats for safety? I have been there on a patrol boat. It doesn’t matter what a patrol boat instructs, educates or informs, they have no back up. Because of lack of compliance of participants, it seems it becomes increasingly dangerous. If we can have better control of participants, and revelers, and the outside boaters, it is a fantastic event. Insurance for the event, doesn’t mean the control doesn’t mean, Like Tim Stevens says, its out of control and the Chambers needs to look at more control. It is sad because everybody loves it but it is getting more dangerous and dirty, and alot less people who register.

  31. And thank you Alan Nelson, so true

  32. We can throw stones at this event and others like it but bottom line is the town need tourism. You must figure out a way to pull this off and creat more visitation

    I have been involved with many non profit groups like this and put on some large events. Its growing pains dealing with government agency’s and land owners is tricky sort of thing.

    Allen Nelson brings up good points for the hard costs to the town great ideas . Heck each time the raiders play a team out of town the facility has to staff accordingly.

    Be carful with bed taxs SD and Long Beach have very high visitor taxes perhaps special event taxes so regular visitors don’t have to fut the bill all year

    As Jim beaver stated its a fund raiser for the chamber. Increase the entry fee enough to cover more enforcement. Make it well known in the advertising before the next event

    You will scare off a bunch of the freeloaders arm bands are a good idea for participants easy way for enforcement to spot

    Also increase enforcement a must at these things the rabble-rousers need to who is in charge once they see cops in numbers they will behave. Safety issues are 1st perhaps coastguard inspection of floats in warranted the day before otherwise tubes and flotation devices

    The waterway is a rout of travel for all. We don’t want restrictions like the environmental extreme wanted for Topock up River or the plan to limit the size of boats on the strip it takes enforcement and cooperation from all

    As a property owner here too I know it’s vital for our town to welcome visitors and explore more events to bring folks to Parker

  33. Yes the the float is a way for the chamber to increase revenue. For some reason the director is pushing every year to increase the attendance, we don’t need to increase the attendances, revenue is all the chamber director really cares about. Chamber does very little to help small businesses. When I owned a bottle water distribution business I could count on one hand how many chambers members purchase water from me. No they are not drinking city tap water .BACK TO THE TUBE FLOAT,I enjoy it ,i also volunteer with my boat to help out the floaters who seemed to have enough after 3 hours. Also people it’s only one day a year. I know how some homeowners are fed up with it,but I don’t see them volunteering at,all, just bitch,bitch,bitch

  34. Tina Rose

    Making money is great, but not when it effects others the way this does…..Hope to see the issues resolved!!

  35. Barry Obler

    My understanding, from the Chamber of Commerce is that the event has only become profitable in the past 4 years. It was stated at the meeting to have been $50,000 this year, certainly a sizeable amount. Realistically, the event is probably having a negative impact equal or greater than that, all things considered. Has anyone done a survey of how much trash is left on the river bottom? I only know how much ended up around my dock that I personally dove and cleaned up after showing a representative of the group, along with pointing out all the trash at Badenochs, along Bluewater drive, as well as on my own property and adjacent empty lots. I was assured that the trash would all be cleaned up, and in fact, some of it was, but the two empty lots on either side of my house still have bottles, cans and floats, among other trash, left after repeated contacts with the Chamber. If they made $50k, they could not afford to pay someone a few bucks to pick this stuff up?

  36. Troy Hooker

    Parker Live Updates then make sure the trash and security are there to look after the PRIVATE homes on the river as well. Our property and many others are littered with trash after this event when people can’t make it to Bluewater and want out of the river at our dock or property. It’s not right and needs to be stopped.

  37. The fact is you do have at least a year to prepare in advance every time. Raising the fee to $20 is very doable. Most people are out of towners traveling on vacation (and people who choose to pay and not sneak on) can afford this, and especially with tube float people like myself look forward to it every year and save money for it. $10 won’t break the bank. Last year for the first time I saw people on waverunners going from section to section offering to take people’s trash and then return it to a local dock for disposal. Weren’t sure if they were with the town or not but kudos to them. That’s another solution. Enforce a catchy slogan “Don’t Wreck Our River” and bring awareness to the new floaters literally when they go to sign up that it is in danger of being shut down because of it. You must be direct with them.. They’ll get the message trust me. Shutting this down would take a hit to the economy, especially when it has statistically been proven to have profited the past few years. Many people who come to the river as guests choose to return to it other weekend’s, not necessarily just holiday ones. As far as security have more officers on standby or borrow some from nearby towns/cities for the day. A lot of communities do this already. I’m sure most would say yes to a day at the beach. (You know what I mean.) Donations and volunteerism on the home front are ideal here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *