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What’s Your Party Affiliation?

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In an election year, the issues are up for debate. And one question may have Maryland boaters stumped: What will become of the great Bumper Bash of the Magothy River? Every July, hundreds of boaters have rafted up for a floating party off Dobbins Island near Annapolis, Maryland. But after a fierce legislative debate between organizers and local residents—the event may be coming to an end. In recent years, the state responded to the growth of Bumper Bash by increasing the number of police on duty. The move ensured a more orderly extravaganza, yet proved a substantial drain on taxpayer dollars. This year, legislators passed a bill that put the onus of the event on organizer Jimmy Jernigan: requiring the host to get a permit, pay for security, post lifeguards, and more. As the state’s house passed the bill, Jernigan dropped out. So what will happen at Dobbins Island in late July? Jernigan predicted boaters would still gather for a party, organized or not. And Maryland’s legislators don’t have a problem with that. “There’s nothing in this bill that hinders the continuance of these events,” said Bryan Simonaire, Republican state senator. “What we did is put existing public-safety provisions in there because these events are getting so large.” Still, stiffer penalties and a stipulation that could make some boaters pay the cost of breaking up the event could keep things quiet.

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