Biscayne National Park Preparing For "Most Dangerous Weekend" Of The Year

It's being billed as "the most dangerous weekend of the year" at Biscayne National Park. "It" is Columbus Day Weekend, when the Annual Columbus Day Regatta sets sail.

Now, officially the regatta, which marks its 57th anniversary this year during the October 5-8 weekend, is staged outside of the park's boundaries. But Biscayne officials say that in recent years "thousands of revelers have gathered within the park near Elliott Key for informal gatherings that are increasingly rowdy. This makes it difficult for law enforcement to maintain a safe, low impact visitor experience."

"In the past 10 years, six individuals have been killed in boating accidents during Columbus Day Weekend parties," park officials note in a release warning of the upcoming regatta. "Seagrass beds within Biscayne have sustained serious damage from vessel groundings. Excessive litter has been observed in the area of the anchorage."

Biscayne Superintendent Mark Lewis says weekend boating in the park, the largest marine park in the National Park System, can be spectacular. But only if boaters act responsibly.

"Boaters planning to enjoy Columbus Day Weekend in Biscayne National Park are urged to appoint a designated skipper, be alert for swimmers and for boaters operating under the influence, avoid operating at night, maintain control of trash, and obey laws and regulations," said Superintendent Lewis."

The park release went on to state that "What should be an enjoyable weekend out on the water is increasingly becoming a serious matter for law enforcement, with multiple agencies coordinating with the NPS to enforce laws, such as 'rafting' of vessels, excessive noise violations, and illegal commercial activities. With zero tolerance enforcement in place and fines easily exceeding $5,000, it is important for the public to exercise good judgment during Columbus Day Weekend in Biscayne National Park."

Comments

This would not be tolerated in other national parks. Too many locals see the park as "just their playground" rather than one of the nation's most significant resources. It is fine to have fun and recreate, but "beads for boobs?" You know what 10,000 people and no portapotties means, right? Speakers the size of refrigerators? Booze, drugs, assaults? Google "Columbus Day Regatta" to see some examples of what goes on in the park, NOT at the regatta.

Looks allot like Lake Mead to me.

Columbus Day 2012 is going to be the best one yet! Everyone should be responsible with a Sober Captian and follow all the rules so we can keep doing this year after year!

This "T&A Drunk fest" does NOT belong in a National Park. MOVE it OUTSIDE THE PARK to Miami. So Park officials support this party? Drugs, booze, and prostitution on the shore of a protected sub-tropical island inside a National Park all the while under the so-called "watchful eye" of Park Law Enforcement? I thought Park Rangers were supposed to protect the natural resources of the park? Isn't that why the NPS was created in the first place --to protect places like this? Why do park officials allow this? Shame! (And 'ol "Juan" posting here is typical response of the "it's all about me" attitude in Miami. He and all his low-IQ friends could give a rat's a$$ about the park --it's all about their party. Typical sleazy Miami unfortunately.) I just want to know who is paying off who to continue to allow this to go on year after year.

I think National Park Aficianado missed the part about the regatta being staged outside the Park. Unfortunately, activities from the regatta slop over into the park. The activities are not condoned by park management as management has issed the statement that there would be a zero tolerence approach to violations. The harsh reality is that the NPS and other law enforcement agencies do not have enough staff to stop all violations, and they never will. They can only do the best they can with the staff available to them. And yes, they are all bringing more staff for the event.

The actual regatta is outside the park. The boat party (~10,000 drunken idiots) is at Elliott Key. That island is inside the boundaries of Biscayne NP.