Torch Lake Fourth of July celebrations require extra patrol

Kalkaska and Antrim county Sheriffâ??s Officeâ??s, Michigan State Police and the DNR were all needed for patrol on torch lake this Fourth of July.

Torch Lake is a popular northern Michigan spot to celebrate the Fourth of July, but with five thousand people on a sand bar that is only half a mile long, it's easy for things to get out of hand.

Kalkaska and Antrim County Sheriffâ??s Officeâ??s, Michigan State Police and the DNR were all needed for patrol on Torch Lake this Fourth of July.

â??The sandbar is unique because you can walk out to it from shore,â?? said Antrim County Undersheriff Dean Pratt. â??So our larger crowds are under age people drinking out there and walking on. There are quite a few boats but they circle the sandbar so it's difficult for us to get to medical needs and people that are fighting or having a disturbance.â??

Officers say the number of people attending has decreased over the years, and along with that, the number of arrests has gone down as well, but they want to be prepared for the worst.

â??Before there was a great amount of law-enforcement out there things would get a little crazy,â?? said reserve officer Mike Sizen. â??Theyâ??d do damage to private homeowners property and in and out on the sandbar people wouldâ?¦ it would just get out of hand.â??

They're hopeful the weather will help this year go smoothly.

â??The weather is a little bit cooler so we're thankful for that for heat exhaustion issues,â?? said Pratt.

But officers are unsure about what the night will bring since the fireworks are cancelled.

â??Usually between five and six, people start clearing out because they bring the barge down for the fireworks so we would go from hundreds of boats down to under 100 boats,â?? said Sizen.

â??It just depends on the crowd and if theyâ??re going to have their own fireworks tonight or theyâ??re going to disperse after dark,â?? said Pratt.

Law enforcement say the smaller crowds this year are likely due to the competition they have with the Cherry Festival and Blue Angels in Traverse City.