Tubing ban, enforced rules don’t dampen Eben G. Fine revelry in Boulder
A Boulder Creek tubing ban and police and park’s department efforts to enforce rules and regulations this Fourth of July did not discourage large crowds from visiting Eben G. Fine Park on Thursday to celebrate the nation’s independence.
Hundreds of people, many sporting patriotic red, white and blue attire, spread out across the park, enjoying picnics and lounging in the shade. While tubes were absent from the water, many still cooled off in the shallows of Boulder Creek. For blocks, cars lined the streets and people hiked down the sidewalks, toting coolers, lawn chairs and beach balls.
Later in the evening, the Boulder area was treated to fireworks despite some rain earlier in the day as the University of Colorado Boulder’s annual Ralphie’s Independence Day Blast got underway at Folsom Field.
Last year’s crowds had raised some concerns from nearby residents who saw people drinking alcohol in the park, which is not allowed. Some also spotted overflowing garbage cans after the festivities ended. Police and parks officials said last week they would step up efforts to enforce rules and keep the park clean and family friendly.
Along the creek on Thursday, police checked in with crowds and reminded revelers of the rules. Park officials in neon vests also were stationed at multiple places throughout the park.
Boulder Police Sgt. Mike Heath said that as of 6:43 p.m. Thursday, 70 tickets were issued, primarily for alcohol violations.
Heath said in response to last year, authorities made sure to be a presence at the park. He said there were 10 police officers, six park employees and two swift water rescue teams stationed Thursday at Eben G. Fine Park.
As of that evening, Heath said people had so far seemed receptive to the rules.
“We didn’t have any major issues,” he said. “Folks were cooperative.”
Danny Gaddis, 25, and Talia Bussi-Sottile, 24, were among those who visited the park Thursday. The couple said they grew up in Boulder and were visiting from California for two weeks.
While standing on the banks of the creek with their dog, Nellie, they reminisced about their Fourth of July tradition of visiting the park since they were in high school.
“We hangout. We play spikeball,” Gaddis said. “Ever since they shut down the Res (the Boulder Reservoir), this is kind of the place to go party and have fun. We are definitely are not doing that (partying) at this stage anymore.”
They added that they were not too disappointed in the tubing ban.
“Growing up here, you learn what is safe and some … will push the limits, but this current is probably too fast for tubing,” Bussi-Sottile said. “Normally, it’s a lot slower and you can lazy river down.”
Some who visited the park Thursday didn’t learn there was a tubing ban until they arrived.
Anthony Steadman , and Jai Wiglesworth were at the park early in the morning to hand out samples of their Mountain Mud CBD Sunscreen. Steadman said he saw a large crowd leave the park that morning with their inner tubes and grills in hand. Using a freestanding charcoal or gas grill, instead of a permanent one erected by the city, is not allowed.
Many who visited the park, though, seemed content to follow the rules and enjoy the park as is.
Katie Kiefer, 20, and Luty Conner, 20, both of Boulder, splashed in the creek. Both said this was their first time visiting the park for the Fourth of July. Conner, who had a broken foot, kept her bright green cast propped on a rock as she cooled off in the water.
“Basically, we came here just for the water,” Conner said. “It has a good little path to walk along.”
Kiefer added that they enjoyed being able to buy ice cream in the park, too.
Not far from Kiefer and Conner, Cressler McArthur strummed his mandolin and sang in the shade of a tree.
McArthur, 28, is an Air Force veteran who served from 2009 to 2012. He has been playing mandolin for more than eight years.
“I’m meeting up with a celloist and we are going to be making some music here in the park,” McArthur said. “Even though I’m out of the military, I still like to give back to the community and playing music is my way of giving back now. I just come out and sing and play music and be merry and have a good time.”