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McCall's 4th of July Booze Ban (Part Four)

A ban of alcoholic beverages will be in effect for 24 hours at beachfront city parks in the City of McCall, including Legacy, Brown, Davis Beach, Art Roberts and Rotary parks.

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Beer, wine and cocktails will not be on the menu for the fourth year in a row at beaches around Payette Lake during the annual McCall Independence Day celebration.

A ban on alcoholic beverages will be in effect for 24 hours on Thursday, July 4, at beachfront city parks in the City of McCall, including Legacy, Brown, Davis Beach, Art Roberts and Rotary parks.

The ban is shorter than previous years, since the holiday will fall on a Thursday this year and the culture surrounding the holiday has changed, McCall Police Chief Justin Williams said.

"We've slowly been scaling back through the years on this," he said.

Alcohol will also be banned for the fourth straight year at North Beach Unit of Ponderosa State Park on Payette Lake by the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation and Valley County.

The ban at North Beach will be in effect from Wednesday- Sunday, July 3-7, Valley County Sheriff's Office Capt. Jason Speer said.

Boat access will be allowed during the ban on about three-fourths of the beach starting on the west side near Warren Wagon Road and extending east. The eastern 300 feet will be a designated swimming area, Speer said.

The county, city and state entered into an agreement to regulate the Fourth of July celebration in 2016. After a two-year extension signed by the city earlier this year, the agreement between the agencies will expire following the 2020 holiday.

"From the first year of the ordinance and a full closure, we feel we are on track to return this unit (North Beach) back to little or no restrictions as stated when the ordinance was signed," Speer said.

Since 2016, the alcohol ban has been credited with ridding the parks of rowdy young adults who in past years had drawn complaints for drunkenness, explicit language and various stages of nudity. Those complaints peaked in 2015, when July 4 fell on a Saturday.

In the first year of the proscription, alcohol was banned in all city parks and at North Beach for the entire weekend leading up to July 4, which fell on a Monday.

The city reduced the ban to only beachfront city parks in 2017, but made the parks dry for five days from July 1-5. North Beach remained dry that year during the holiday celebration.

In 2018, dry areas were limited to beachfront city parks from 8 p.m. on July 3 to 8 a.m. on July 5. A 10-day ban was instituted at North Beach from June 29 to July 9.

Independence Day will again fall on a Saturday in 2020, and local authorities said the holiday falling on a weekend will allow them to test the waters during a peak celebration to determine whether the ban needs to be renewed beyond 2020.

North Beach was the site of impromptu beach parties attended by hundreds of people between 2007 and 2015 that officials said resulted in large amounts of trash and excessive alcohol use.

The beach was nearly deserted in 2016 and 2017, the first two years of the ban, but about 100 people enjoyed the beach on the holiday last year.

Anecdotal reports blame the poor turnout on misconceptions that the entire town was dry for the holiday, which prompted many to take their celebrations elsewhere.

The city instituted the Lakeside Liberty Fest at Legacy Park featuring family friendly activities in an attempt to encourage families to return to the city for the holiday.

The festival will continue this year at Legacy Park with a hodgepodge of music, food, booths and activities on Independence Day and the return of "Movie Under the Stars" on Friday, July 5, McCall Communications Manager Erin Greaves said.

"We are excited to host another amazing day on the shores of the Payette!" Greaves said.

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