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."