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Fewer moons over Amtrak

July 11, 2009 |  4:52 pm

Laguna Niguel’s efforts to crack down on the crowds who drop their pants and bare their bottoms during a summer ritual appear to be working.

Under the blazing Saturday afternoon sun, about 100 people showed up to moon passing trains across from the Mugs Away Saloon, a huge drop from last year’s event, which drew 8,000 patrons who drunkenly bared all when the Amtrak rolled by.

"It was pretty mellow," Jim Amormino, an Orange County Sheriff’s Department spokesman, said of this year's turnout.

Last year, deputies had to shut down the event, which quickly got out of hand. "There were sex acts in public. There was total nudity," Amormino said. "There were people passing alcohol to minors and people were urinating anywhere they felt like it."

The Laguna Niguel City Council adopted laws in April to cover up the crowds by cordoning off the mooning grounds, restricting parking and banning drinking and urinating in public. Officials said at the time that they wanted to return the summer ritual to a fun, family-type affair.

Amormino said that even though the crowds were starting to thin out around 1:15 p.m., people appeared to be having fun. Mugs Away Saloon has been busy since morning, he said, and no arrests had been made so far.

Suzanne Haggerty, 48, of Dove Canyon said she felt the police presence went overboard. "There were more cops than people mooning," she said, adding that some in the crowd were upset because they felt the city was out to destroy a 30-year-old tradition.

Haggerty said she stayed to moon about 10 passing trains. "I had a blast."

According to local lore, the tradition started in 1979 when a patron offered to buy drinks for anyone who would run out to the tracks and moon the next passing train.

-- My-Thuan Tran