BULLHEAD CITY – We don’t mind tourists leaving their money here, but not their trash.
The Bullhead City Council voted 4-3 Tuesday to put an end to the River Regatta, which attracted an estimated 30,000 partying rafters to the 10th annual event on the Colorado River in August.
They left a trail of trash that included inflatables, beer cans, plastic bottles, leftover food, clothes and sleeping bags strewn along the banks of the river.
City workers, contractors and volunteers spent two days cleaning up the trash around Davis Camp, Community Park, Rotary Park and Heritage Trail, according to the Mohave Valley Daily News.
Local residents complained to city officials and launched an initiative to cancel the River Regatta, gaining about 3,700 signatures.
“I live across the street from Rotary Park and the mess that was left was horrific,” Bullhead City resident Samantha Stevens posted on Facebook. “Total lack of respect. It’s definitely not worth the little amount of money that might be made. This is why I refuse to participate in the regatta. Very sad.”
After a lengthy debate Tuesday, Bullhead City Council decided to follow the citizens’ recommendation.
Mayor Tom Brady, who voted to cancel the regatta, said it was one of his toughest and most controversial decisions since taking office. However, the council determined the cost of the regatta just isn’t worth it for the community.
It has a positive economic impact on local businesses and generates an estimated $35,000 in sales tax revenue over three days. Prior to 2014, the River Regatta resulted in a net loss, but the city turned a $222,000 profit in 2015 and made $162,000 this year, Brady reported.
“What happened (with trash) on the shoreline at Rotary Park this year is deplorable, but I know that we can fix it,” Brady said at the meeting. “I have no doubt that we’ll never see anything like that again. But trash in the river is a major concern of mine as it with many others.”
Bullhead City Police also wanted to see the regatta discontinued.
“Every year our police officers are placed in substantial jeopardy in dealing with many unruly, drunken people,” Brady added.
The regatta starts with parties at participating hotels such as Harrah’s, Golden Nugget, River Lodge and Tropicana Resort. The highlight is the 9-mile float down the Colorado River, which lasts about four hours.
Contests at the regatta include Ms. Regatta, best decorated float, best cocktail, most spirited house and most spirited business.
“We all know that Bullhead City is a wonderful place to live, and we put our city on the map with the regatta,” Brady said. “Now I think it’s time that we conclude the regatta on a high note and we devote the time city staff spends on it to do more on enhancing the quality of life for those who live here.”