A busy holiday and weekend for area law enforcement

Linda Gallagher, Contributing Writer

Photo courtesy of Jameson Aerial Photography

Although smaller and better behaved than in previous years, the crowd of outdoor recreationists that gathered on the sandbar at the south end of Torch Lake over the July 4 holiday period last week was still very large, which kept area law enforcement and first responders busy.


REGION – It wasn't hard to tell that northern Michigan had a lot of visitors over the recent holiday weekend. 

Grocery stores, gas stations, and restaurants were full of customers, many from out of town, cars filled the highways, and area waters were busy with outdoor recreationists in boats, personal watercraft and kayaks throughout most of last week.

All of which kept area law enforcement and emergency personnel busy as well.

With its history of problems during previous Fourth of July holiday periods, when large crowds of partiers have gathered to enjoy the holiday, the Torch Lake sandbar at the south end of Torch Lake has been the focus of a full force of first responders from Antrim and Kalkaska counties.

This year, however, as in the past few years, the crowds enjoying the sandbar last week were, for the most part, smaller and well behaved, said Antrim County Outdoor Recreation Officer Scott Boni, who supervises the area’s marine patrol.

"Everything went really well," Boni said Monday afternoon. "But it was busy on and off through all of last week."

Weather, which varied between hot and sunny to cooler with rain showers, played a large part in the number of people present in the Torch River area, According to Boni.

"It seemed like every time it started to get really busy, it would rain and people would leave," he said, noting that the largest crowds he noticed were on July 3, when the traditional Torch Lake fireworks show is held, and on the July 4 holiday itself. "But we still had a fair share stay and enjoy themselves."

Boni added that the size of this year's holiday crowds, like last year, appeared smaller than in earlier years.

"We only made a few arrests, most of those for minor in possession violations, but we also issued several tickets for marine violations," he said.

One boat visiting the area this year carried a Baptist minister believed to be from out of state, who, as in previous years, preached to the crowd on the sins allegedly being committed on the sandbar.

"I heard someone was out there, but did not see them or hear them," Boni said. "Not like last year, when they walked around in the crowd with everyone," reportedly provoking some into becoming aggressive, which forced the involvement of law enforcement.

"No, overall, it was very peaceful, and once again all of the law enforcement and first responders – which included Michigan State Police officers and DNR law enforcement and parks personnel as well as deputies from the Antrim and Kalkaska County Sheriff’s offices, worked very well together," Boni said.

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