Thursday, April 19, 2018
News Roundup

Video showing campers' 'mountain of booze' gets them booted from Fort De Soto Park

It's a rare occasion when the cyberworld clashes with the rustic setting of camping.

But on Saturday, a group of friends at a Fort De Soto Park campsite saw the two worlds collide abruptly, much to their regret.

Plans had called for some wild life of a different nature.

Nestled in a secluded cove that included three campsites, a group hatched a plan for a bash that included a "mountain of booze," according to officials at the Pinellas County park.

But long before the party started, the eager bunch whipped out smartphones to beam to the world their treasure: a green picnic table stacked high with an assortment of libations.

The video was created with the now-ubiquitous Socialcam application and uploaded to YouTube.

It listed specifics, including the campsite location (#60), descriptions of each tent, the names of the campers and, most importantly, their specials guests: Jack Daniel's, Jose Cuervo, Captain Morgan, Bacardi, Grey Goose, Malibu Black and five 12-packs of Miller Lite. Oh, and that didn't include the beer that was already in the coolers.

Some would say they were braggarts.

"This is how we do it," the hostess said in the video. "This is the booze corner and we have more." The more included red wine, sake and other cordials.

Can you say overshare?

The video set off a storm that the cheery bunch didn't envision.

Before the video was barely viewed, a park volunteer, who was not at the park, received a Google alert, thanks to the video's label: Camping at Fort De Soto. That alert resulted in a call to the park, tipping off security that a huge party was planned later that evening.

So instead of getting smashed, the group was cited for trespass and asked to leave the premises.

"They were trespassed out of the park," said Jim Wilson, park superintendent.

Being issued a trespass comes with a citation, which basically documents the reasons for being asked to leave the park. The citation means that James Hines of Clearwater, who made the reservation for the group, is banned from the campground for a year.

"Alcohol is not allowed in any county park," said Lyle Fowler, operations manager for Pinellas County parks. "The only exception is by permit, and there's usually an application process that they'd have to go through."

This isn't the first time park officials have relied on social media to intervene in a large gathering.

"Social networking isn't new to us," Fowler said. "We have had similar occasions at Ridgecrest Park in Largo, where there's been fairly large gatherings."

Sandra J. Gadsden can be reached at [email protected] or at (727) 893-8874.

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