Though there's concern in some quarters that the revitalization of the LA River will result in regular folks being left high and dry as they are pushed out of the area by rising property values, for the time being at least, the city's scrappy urban waterway is still accessible and available to all. This Saturday, a number of brave and/or foolhardy Angelenos mean to take advantage of this with a competitive inner tube race.
The event, dubbed LA-zy River, is the brainchild of comedian Kurt Braunohler and writer/actor Lauren Cook (they're married). Conceived many months ago, the couple's idea was inspired—or should we say, precipitated—by the rafts of El Niño-related news coverage promising storms of Biblical proportions. While the weather event turned out to be much weaker than predicted, the sparse rainstorms of the last few weeks boosted the river's water levels sufficiently for Braunohler and Cook to schedule their long-planned race, even if they failed to make a dent in SoCal's drought problem.
For those who think this sounds like a harebrained scheme, well, you won't get any argument from the organizers, who state on their website:
And just to be clear about the nature of this event (and specifically to address the people who have been emailing us all their angry complaints about this idea): THIS IS A BAD IDEA. NO ONE SHOULD DO THIS. WE AGREE WITH YOU. ONLY A BUNCH OF WRONG-HEADED DUM-DUMS WOULD EVEN ATTEMPT SUCH A DIRTY, DANGEROUS AND INSANE ADVENTURE. SO PLEASE - STAY HOME! DON'T COME TO THIS!
Would-be participants not dissuaded by the above warning are instructed to bring a heavy-duty inner tube, river shoes, and provisions. Wetsuits are also suggested.
Cook tells Curbed that more than 500 people have signed up on LA-zy River's website to request race information; however, she adds, "It's very difficult to estimate how many people will actually come out, and also difficult to estimate how many of those will go to the trouble of buying a tube and water shoes, et cetera. Could be 25, could be 200. Those who've submitted their email addresses will be emailed the exact time and location of the float. It won't be a long float—we're taking safety and river conservation into consideration."
In addition to the race itself, there will be an opening tube christening and ceremony, an awards ceremony, and an after-party DJed by comedian Jonah Ray. "People are welcome to come to the float, the party, or both," says Cook. While the event is free, attendees will be asked for donations that will go toward nonprofits that protect the river.
*UPDATE: According to the LA-zy River website, the event has been called off. Per the site:
DUE TO THREAT OF IMMINENT ARREST THE FROGTOWN EVENT HAS BEEN CANCELLED. DO NOT GO TO FROGTOWN.
It seems as if the Army Corps of Engineers, City Hall, and various municipalities are FURIOUS at the thought of tube-circled butts floating peacefully down a short stretch of the LA River.
STAY TUNED though, because we're still working on a top secret LEGAL way to 'celebrate the LA River".
- LA-zy River [Official site]
- It's Probably Too Late For El Niño to Do Much Good in SoCal [Curbed LA]