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Safety is paramount at Boca Bash

Posted at 2:35 PM, Apr 24, 2016

The party is happening on Lake Boca today. The annual Boca Bash is a grassroots gathering of people and their boats. NewsChannel 5 got an inside look at how authorities keep the fun safe.

“It’s just a big event on the water where everyone gets together and has a good time,” explained Vinnie, a Boca Raton resident who’s participated in past parties.

Officer Tyson Matthews says the combination of music, boats, and drinking could be dangerous.
He took us on the water to see first hand. Before noon, about 100 boats had filled Lake Boca.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission spent the day stopping boats. Officers like Matthews are making sure boat captains have life jackets, flares and other legally-required safety equipment.

“There’s a whole slew of issues that could go wrong,” Matthews said. “You have currents, wind, weather, and there’s obviously people in the water.”

In our first safety stop, the FWC officers found a group of 17 people only had 16 life preservers. State law requires captains keep a life preserver on board for every passenger.

Officers wrote the captain a $90 ticket.

“I think it sends a message that we have a zero tolerance policy for life jackets and safety equipment,” Matthews said.

People on the boat owned up to the mistake and say even with the ticket, they’re happy law enforcement agencies like FWC are being proactive.

“It’s good to keep an eye on everyone, there’s a lot of boat traffic, a lot going on,” Vinnie pointed out.

“It teaches you to do an extra check before you leave,” added his friend, Mike.

Partiers held a similar type of event in Miami Beach earlier this month called Floatopia. People left trash all over the beach, prompting the city’s mayor to say he doesn’t want the event to every take place again.

An organizer for the Boca Bash said his group has always pushed participants to clean up after themselves. He said this year, they’re taking extra precautions to make sure no trash is left behind. Volunteers will be out Monday to pick up any leftover trash.