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.