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Floatopia beach party a little less hearty this year

April 11, 2010 |  8:41 am

Santa Barbara students partied in the street after authorities blocked access to the beach.

By most accounts, this year's notorious Floatopia beach party in Santa Barbara was a little less wild this year thanks to a crackdown by authorities.

The annual event drew hundreds if not thousands of college students and young people, and the alcohol was apparently flowing, according to reports. But there were fewer problems, authorities said.

This year, authorities barricaded beach access points in the area -- but KTLA News reported that revelers found other ways to the beach.

Last year, deputies handed out 78 citations for alcohol-related crimes and made 13 arrests. Thirty-three participants required hospital treatment for alcohol poisoning, heat exposure and cuts. Two of them toppled off the bluffs that border the beach.

Started about five years ago with several hundred people drinking just offshore on rubber rafts and inner tubes, the celebration has been a barely planned rite of spring, with no formal sponsor, security or provisions for emergency aid. It has inspired similar events, most notably in San Diego.

In Santa Barbara, the 2009 edition was bigger -- and, to county officials, more environmentally damaging -- than before: "Without restroom facilities, many attendees simply used the ocean, creating a large concentration of human waste that threatened sea life," according to a statement from the Sheriff's Department.

-- Shelby Grad

Photo credit: KTLA