Tahoe officials: Big crowds, little drama for Fourth of July weekend
July 8, 2015
INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — Tahoe-Truckee's lake shores, wilderness areas and local businesses once again were braced for another busy Fourth of July holiday this past weekend.
Roads and patience were tested, as traffic congestion could be seen as far away as Truckee, with lines of cars jamming Highway 267.
Crowds of people packed the Tahoe shorelines from Incline Village to Tahoe City and Truckee as lines of boats and cars made their way in and out of town.
For those accustomed to the area Fourth of July hustle and bustle, it was about what one could expect, especially given the holiday falling on a weekend.
"We had 5,100 people on July 3, which is the biggest we've ever had," said Indra Winquest, Incline Village Parks and Recreation director, who has been organizing Fourth of July events in Incline Village the past nine years. "It was the smoothest Fourth we've ever had."
Truckee Police Department officials had little to report in the way of arrests or citations throughout the holiday weekend.
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From TPD Capt. Robert Leftwich's perspective, the combination of the weather and a positive holiday environment may have contributed to an all-around pleasant experience, while keeping crime to a minimum.
"In all, very rarely can you put 8,000 to 10,000 people in a place and come out with these issues," he said. "Everyone did very well."
This Fourth of July, TPD reported one DUI arrest compared to two in 2014, and three disorderly conduct arrests compared to one last year.
WEATHERING THE STORM
While Friday brought crowds to the region, Saturday brought clouds.
Just as Truckee's Fourth of July parade began, Mother Nature made her presence known, darkening the morning's blue skies. Lightning followed, and claps of thunder grabbed the crowd's attention as large drops of rain sent people scurrying for cover.
Lake Tahoe fared no better for those few hours, but cloudy skies eventually gave way to scattered patches of sunshine, inviting the crowds back to the beaches, with plenty of time to spare before the fireworks.
Winquest estimated between 8 p.m. and 9:30 p.m., the largest number of people came streaming back to the beaches for the big show.
He tallied roughly 11,300 people passing through the kiosks at Incline, Ski and Burnt Cedar beaches over the Fourth of July weekend.
"The beaches were as crowded as I've ever seen them," he said.
Organization was key to the area's success this year, Winquest said, noting that additional beach access points, wristband presales and a focused marketing strategy were instrumental.
"It was the most organized, well-anticipated Fourth of July we've ever had," he said.
ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT
As was the case in Truckee, Washoe County Sheriff's Office officials tallied few crimes over the holiday weekend.
According to WCSO, two arrests were made, and no DUIs were reported. While arrests were identical year-over-year compared to 2014, the lack of reported DUIs was reduced two-fold.
"We had less calls for service and reports this year and were average on arrests and citations," said Lt. Jeff Clark.
With the success of this year's event, no strategy would be complete without looking at areas for improving next year's festivities, Winquest said.
In 2016, Incline Village General Improvement District officials will look at keeping Aspen Grove open a little later, Winquest said, in order for patrons to enjoy the fireworks from that area.
More than 800 people made their way through the Aspen Grove area, he said, justifying the desire to keep it open longer.
Adding larger shuttles may also be an area upon which to improve, given the large number of people that took advantage of the free holiday weekend service.
Winquest believes as many as 250 people used the recently added free shuttle to get to and from the beaches.
"We had nothing to really complain about this year," Winquest said. "The improvements and enhancements and collaboration with all the public safety agencies made for a fantastic and safe holiday weekend for residents and their guests."