Officials from the town of Laughlin are concerned that the public is extending the life of a massive Colorado River floating event that most thought was canceled last year. The Bullhead City Council voted to discontinue the annual regatta that drew as many as 30,000 participants at its zenith, presenting a host of problems ranging from trash and transportation to public safety and civil liability.
MJ Smith, the Executive Director of the Laughlin Tourism Commission, and Jackie Mazzeo, the Executive Director of the Laughlin Chamber of Commerce, attended Monday’s Mohave County Board of Supervisors meeting in Kingman. They said social media communication and Laughlin hotel bookings indicate that the public intends to continue the regatta after the city pulled its plug.
“We’re seeing hundreds of reservations from large groups coming to float the second weekend in August,” Smith said.
Year round planning and hundreds of staff members and volunteers were previously invested to promote public safety. The worry is that an unplanned and unstaffed event river floating event could turn disastrous.
“We want to express our concerns for human life,” Mazzeo said.
“We simply have concerns as operators in Laughlin that our tri-state guests are going to be unsafe floating down the river that weekend if we don’t take steps,” Smith said.
The Board of Supervisors directed staff to schedule the issue for discussion within the next month, if not sooner.
Sheriff Doug Schuster, after the meeting, also expressed concern. He said he planned to discuss the matter this week with Brian Williamson, the police chief in Bullhead City.
Bullhead City Manager Toby Cotter said the city has sent messages to the Regatta Facebook page and to previous regatta participants informing them that the city is no longer hosting the event. He said he hopes many planning to attend will end such consideration when realizing that end of city involvement eliminates transportation and other logistical components they previously relied upon for convenience and public safety.