Coast Guard concerned by Palm Valley Palooza


PALM VALLEY, Fla. – Law enforcement agencies were out on the water Sunday trying to make sure people were safe  during the Fourth of July weekend.

The Coast Guard, St. Johns County deputies, and fire and rescue were in Palm Valley for a party that's being called "Valley Palooza."

It's a party on the water with rafts and inflatable tubes, but Coast Guard officials were concerned the narrow waterway could get congested  making
it more difficult for them to respond to an emergency.

"I'm real excited. I was raised on this Intracoastal Waterway. I learned to swim in 1968. So this is very special to me," Ken Mickler said.

Hundreds of people responded to a Facebook invite about the event.

"It's awesome. I haven't been to Palm Valley in a very long time. I think it's exciting that they've done something like this," Rose Kelley.

With the number of people out on the water officials with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission were concerned the waterway would become narrow  making it more difficult to respond to an emergency in the area.

"A large wake could flip people in inflatables, so they may be in the water and if they're not strong swimmers or they're not wearing their life jackets we may have to respond to a situation like that," Lt. Steve Zukowsky with Florida Fish and Wildlife said.

Many say they're glad Valley Palooza is taking place.

"It's important to get a lot of people out to enjoy the Intercoastal waterway. Get away from their television, their computer screen for a while and just enjoy nature. This is just a cool place to be," Mickler said.

Organizers believe Valley Palooza could become an annual event.