CINCINNATI - There were more water fowl than watercraft on the Ohio River Wednesday morning as U.S. Coast Guard Boatswain's Mate First Class Bruce Czako fired up the twin Honda engines of his 25-foot response boat and pulled away from the Serpentine Wall.
Neither he nor his partner, Petty Officer Michael Slack expect that to be the case on Sunday when there could be upwards of 500 boats jockeying for space to watch the Riverfest fireworks.
"I've never been to it before, so I'm looking forward to it," Czako said. "Sounds like it's going to be fun."
The Coast Guard is bringing in three other Response Boats from Louisville and Huntington to keep everyone safe.
"Some will be insuring a safe zone on the north side," said Slack. "Some will be insuring a safe zone on the south side, [and] we'll have a roving law enforcement vessel."
Weather will play a big factor, both in safety and law enforcement.
With Hurricane Isaac expected to bring rain during the event, the patrol will be busy gauging the ebb and flow of boaters' behavior.
"With the hurricane, if we get some of the effects of that, " Slack said, "you could see as little as 100 [boats] out here."
That's the good news, because when visibility lessens, there is greater chance for a collision. With fewer boats, there could be fewer accidents.
However, that doesn't mean rain during the Tri-State's biggest river party can't cause trouble.
"If they can't see fireworks, what are they going to resort to next?" Slack said. "The next thing they can have fun with, which is alcohol."
Slack suggests if you're driving the boat, don't drink.
Other safety tips:
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