Frustrations growing over partying, safety at Rainbow Beach in Northampton

Western Mass News Exclusive
Frustrations are building for boaters along the Connecticut River in Northampton where partying and safety concerns have them speaking out.
Published: Aug. 15, 2022 at 8:01 PM EDT
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(WGGB/WSHM) - Frustrations are building for boaters along the Connecticut River in Northampton where partying and safety concerns have them speaking out.

“It’s gross. The stuff that’s happening late at night, it’s just out of line,” said Mark Britton of Hadley.

Britton spoke with Western Mass News to discuss concerns over partying on the Connecticut River. He called it the worst he’s seen since he was a kid.

“Uncontrolled environment, underage drinking, debauchery, fireworks, just an all-out party,” Britton added.

When we hopped in his pontoon boat on Monday afternoon to scope it out, the coast was clear, but photos from over the weekend revealed bags of trash, tequila bottles found in the water, and more.

“When we come up here, the first thing we do is clear the area where we put our boat because the last time we were here: lotta bottle caps, lotta trash,” said Carol Crowe of Springfield.

Britton told us he’s witnessed boats transporting people over to the beach.

“They’re taking droves of people out here 10 o’clock at night until two, three, four in the morning,” Britton explained.

We brought concerns to Hampden County Sheriff spokesperson Robert Rizzuto. In a statement to Western Mass News, he said, in part:

“The large party on Rainbow Beach was the first weekend in August. Because of that, the Connecticut River Task Force, of which we are a member, was requested to do patrols this past weekend. While on-patrol this past weekend, there was some minor activity in the area, but nothing major and no citations were issued.”

Viewers who reached out to Western Mass News captured video of boats patrolling the water just north of Rainbow Beach on Friday night, but Britton is calling for further crack downs on partying and boating safety.

“You got people blowing through the no wake zones. You got thousands of dollars of boats sitting at docks in the no wake zones that are getting thrashed back-and-forth,” Britton added. “We can’t have 9 to 5 patrol out here…the minute the law enforcement are off the water for the night, it’s the wild west. It’s ‘Let the party start.’”

The Hampden County Sheriff’s Department told us they will deploy a marine patrol unit as requested to ensure safe boating the rest of the season.