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Wild Parties Over at Wild Rivers : Violence: The theme park’s management says it will no longer host all-night music events like the one that exploded into violence Saturday.

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Operators of the Wild Rivers water park said Monday that they will stop hosting all-night music parties in response to the violence and vandalism that marred Saturday night’s rave event.

“I’m not sure if they are safe,” said Greg Briggs, general manager of Wild Rivers. “I am not sure we want to be associated with this kind of event.”

More than two dozen Irvine police officers had to help park security officials close down “The Battle of the Bands” early Sunday morning after several fistfights broke out and one man was pistol-whipped.

It took police several hours to clear out the crowd of 3,200 people from the park. By the time they did, a van had been set afire, two people were hospitalized for LSD overdoses and an unarmed private security guard had a gun pointed at his head.

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Police said Monday that they are continuing to investigate the incident but have not arrested any suspects. Lt. Al Muir said the investigation has been hampered by a lack of eyewitnesses to some of the more serious crimes.

Muir blamed the trouble in part on the fact that hundreds of people had to be turned away from the concert. “People were asked to leave or were not permitted in,” he said. “That probably resulted in some ill tempers.”

Wild Rivers officials said they expected about 2,500 people to attend the event, which was scheduled to run from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. Instead, more than 3,000 people had entered Wild Rivers by 11 p.m.

“This was a complete surprise,” said Briggs. “The environment was not prepared for it.”

Promoter Arthur Parent, who organized the event, said that Wild Rivers deserves a share of the blame for not hiring enough security guards to handle the crowds.

Despite the park’s decision to stop hosting all-night parties, Wild Rivers officials said the weekend incident has been blown out of proportion. Briggs said that only “a couple” of fights broke out inside the park and that the van fire was caused by people operating a barbecue, not by angry patrons.

Drugs and alcohol probably didn’t play a major role in the disturbances because patrons were frisked and their bags searched before entering the park, Briggs said. Once inside, they could chose from among 6 venues where deejays played recorded music. Patrons could also ride some of the park’s water attractions.

Wild Rivers has been the scene of several all-night music events over the last year. Both Briggs and Parent said the shows have never experienced trouble before now.

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“We’ve never had a problem like this,” Briggs said. “We don’t need this kind of business.”


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