Pack 10,000 people into eight acres, with unlimited alcohol, a reason to party and a 90-minute parade, and what you have is a Sonoma Fourth of July.
While the body count is only an estimate, the number of people filling the Sonoma Plaza and flowing into Depot Park and the Field of Dreams was by any standard a throng.
And while countless people were visibly lubricated with alcohol, the potential carnage for which Sonoma police were fully prepared failed to unfold.
That doesn’t mean Sonoma’s finest weren’t busy, or that teenage boys didn’t interpret the city celebration as an invitation to ignore the age rules on imbibing adult beverages, but by and large there was a manageable level of chaos on July 4 and into the following morning.
The first police action didn’t take place until almost 2 p.m. when an officer spotted a 17-year-old boy standing outside the Cheese Factory wearing a backpack that a second teen could be seen reaching into nervously. The 17-year-old had a red Solo drinking cup filled with an amber liquid and, in the backpack, a 1.75 liter bottle of Smirnoff’s raspberry vodka and two bottles of Drake ale. He was cited for being a minor in possession of alcohol and released, minus his booze.
Next up was a 37-year-old transient standing in the street at the intersection of West Napa and Third Street with no shirt, no shoes, no socks and no inhibitions. When police arrived, he was waving an American flag at passersby with his penis hanging out of his unzipped shorts.
The man was arrested for indecent exposure and booked into the county jail, adding a new credential to a list of arrests that included public intoxication, disorderly conduct and loitering.
At 2:56 p.m. police encountered an unlicensed ice cream vendor pedaling his wares in the Plaza. Police, who had cited him for the same violation in May, explained that he was unfairly competing with vendors who had paid for a permit. He was cited again for a municipal code violation and ejected from the Plaza.
Some 45 minutes later, police spotted an 18-year-old standing with friends in Depot park holding a water bottle containing an amber fluid that turned out to be rum. The teen quickly dropped the bottle when he spotted the uniformed cyclist, but the motion might as well have been a declaration of guilt and a sign reading “arrest me.” He was relieved of the bottle, cited and released.
At about 4:30 p.m. an officer on bike patrol in Depot Park found a 25-year-old El Verano man face-down in the dirt, sweating heavily and trying unsuccessfully to turn over.
Partially incoherent, the man explained, “I was with my friends, then I woke up with the cops.”
He exhibited no physical injuries but was so drunk he couldn’t remember his first name, first identifying himself as Alex Petersen, then later correcting himself to Kevin Petersen.
In addition to being profoundly drunk, Petersen had 3.9 grams of cocaine in his pocket. He was charged with felony possession of a narcotic controlled substance, being drunk in public and was booked into the county jail.
Next up was a 15-year-old Sonoma boy with a Coors Lite in Depot Park, who was cited out to the Youth and Family Services diversion program.
He was followed by a 17-year-old from Agua Caliente with more sophisticated tastes, who was holding a Corona Extra, also in Depot Park, and also cited to Youth and Family Services.
The next police encounter was a little less benign. At 6:12 p.m., police found a drunk, 33-year-old, Santa Rosa transient lying shirtless on the ground, unconscious near the Plaza rose garden. Witnesses reported he had been challenging a group of young men to fight, kept taunting and following them, until a 22-year-old man turned and punched him in the head.
Police revived the man and transported him to Sonoma Valley Hospital, where he required three stitches, while behaving unruly and belligerent. The provoked assailant was not charged and the transient was treated and released from the hospital.
At 8:14, police found an 18-year-old Sonoma girl nursing a Coors Lite in the Field of Dreams. She was cited and released.
Police next returned to Sonoma Valley Hospital at 9:52 to question a 20-year-old Napa man who said he had been punched and kicked in the head during an exchange of shoves and punches near the Field of Dreams following the fireworks display. The victim, who had a laceration on his lower lip and a bump above the left eyebrow, showed signs of intoxication and had no interest in pressing charges. He signed a release form and no one was charged.
The testosterone was still flowing at 10:45 when two men walking away from the fireworks display on West Spain street got into a shouting altercation with the driver of a red pickup who squealed the truck’s tires as traffic clogged the street. The driver left the truck, confronted one of the men, lifted him up and dropped him on his head.
The driver, 22, from Windsor, was charged with misdemeanor battery when the victim insisted on pressing charges.
At 10:50, the driver of a black Ford Ranger had experienced a minor collision on East Napa Street after consuming, he told police “four or five Modelo beers.” While he repeatedly told police the minor mishap was “no big deal,” he blew a BAC of .10 and was booked into the county jail, charged with DUI.
Drinking figured into the final encounter of the night when, at 12.22 a.m. a 26-year-old Boyes Hot Springs man got into a fight with his girlfriend outside a Plaza tavern. Both parties, who police encountered as they attempted to get into a taxi, said the fight was not physical, despite the fact the girlfriend had fresh abrasions. Both parties appeared to be drunk, but the girlfriend was transported to her home while the boyfriend was booked into the county jail on a charge of being drunk in public.
All-in-all, considering the quantities of people, alcohol and celebratory excitement, police said it was a moderately busy but reassuringly well-managed Fourth of July.