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Portsmouth Police: Boaters should skip Aquapalooza this year

Town, state want to limit number of vessels entering Potters Cove on Saturday


PRUDENCE ISLAND — It’s a day of “boats, beers and bikinis,” and for years has featured hundreds of boaters meeting up at Potters Cove, Prudence Island to revel in the sunshine, groove to live music, shoot water guns at each other, and hop aboard other vessels to clink cups and bottles with partygoers.

Aquapalooza, as it’s known, is still on for this Saturday, July 25, starting at 11 a.m., according to social media sites which are spreading the word.

Law enforcement officers, however, would just like it to go away this year. Even though it’s outdoors, it’s a bad idea for so many people to congregate in one place in the midst of a pandemic, they say.

“We are watching this event very closely, especially due to the current pandemic, and are working with the state to limit the amount of boaters that enter the cove,” said Portsmouth Police Chief Brian Peters.

Portsmouth Police, he said, will have assistance on the water from several law enforcement partners including the R.I. Department of Environmental Management, Bristol Police, and the U.S. Coast Guard. 

The B.A.T. Mobile — not to be confused with Bruce Wayne’s nighttime ride — will be posted at the shoreline, allowing police convenient access to process any boaters suspected of operating their vessels under the influence of drugs or alcohol, he said. (B.A.T. stands for Blood Alcohol Testing.)

Boaters would be wise, however, to forgo the event altogether this year, Chief Peters said.

“We are encouraging boaters to go elsewhere and save the event for next year,” he said. “While we all have been disappointed with the limited summer plans, we ask that the boaters who planned to attend Aquapalooza do the responsible thing and stay away this year for the health and safety of everyone.”

Boaters spread the word

Enthusiasm for this year’s Aquapalooza seems as high as ever, however, judging by its presence on Facebook. The Aquapalooza Rhode Island Facebook page had more than 5,500 members as of Wednesday, despite a claim by its host that organizers are “keeping it down low so we don't get a direct order to cancel.”

On that page, potential attendees are spreading the word about beefed-up marine police patrols. “Designated driver on return might be a smart move,” stated one poster.

Here are some other comments posted on the page:

• “Leave keys out of ignition they can't do (expletive).”

• “Drop anchor quick.”

• “Same thing every year. Don’t be an idiot and you will be fine. Great time!”

• “Can't be dispersed by local authorities even if they wanted to. It's below the 440-foot line in elevation that falls under federal maritime law. Trump hasn't done any federal regulations regarding Covid.”

• “If they order it cancelled just claim it's a BLM protest, Boaters Lives Matter!!!!!”

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