Shell Beach party draws thousands

Dealing with intoxicated people keeps police busy during gathering near Silver Shoals

sdaniel@thetribunenews.comMarch 30, 2012 

Thousands of shorts- and bikini-wearing beach-goers descended onto Shell Beach on Friday for a daylong bash that seems to have turned into an annual event.

For the fourth year in a row, thousands of college-age friends, students, residents and visitors gathered at the beach below the cliffs near Silver Shoals.

“About 3,000-plus college-age students have been partying in Shell Beach near Silver Shoals since 10:30 a.m.,” Pismo Beach Police Department Sgt. Bryan Cox said.

From the cliffs above the beach it was difficult to see a speck of sand.

“It was wall-to-wall people,” said Shell Beach resident Garrett Raynaud, who has joined the crowd the last few years.

As law enforcement officials watched from the cliffs above, many revelers drank alcohol below.

Police said they responded to two medical calls regarding severely intoxicated individuals who were transported to the hospital and four traffic collisions. They also made three arrests for public intoxication.

“It happens every year on Cesar Chavez Day,” said Cal Poly student Chad Coykendall. “It’s sick. We started drinking early and have been going for it all day.”

In an effort to keep the situation under control, Pismo Beach police stepped up patrols, aided by members of the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office, who provided four patrols.

Officers stopped people who were on their way to the beach and asked them whether they were carrying alcohol. If they answered yes, they were asked to return it to their vehicles, according to Cox.

“It seems like it’s a lot more under control this year,” said Raynaud. He also noted that he had seen “a lot more taxis and Safe Ride vans” than in the past.

According to Cox, every car that officers pulled over had a sober driver, and no DUI arrests had been made by early evening.

By 5 p.m., high tide had begun to force revelers off the beach. And by 6 p.m., cleaning crews with the city of Pismo Beach said they had collected about 2 tons of trash — mainly beer bottles.

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