ARDEN, W.Va. — An unprecedented number of revelers turned up this weekend at Arden’s so-called “Party Rock” in an incident that has prompted area officials to issue a warning that unlawful activity will not be tolerated at the popular hangout along the Tygart River.
The Barbour County Sheriff’s Department and Barbour County Commissioners are extremely concerned about the incident that took place on Saturday along the Tygart River, according to a joint press release. There were more than 1,000 people on the rock and its surroundings, causing hazardous safety conditions and impassable roadways due to the number of vehicles in the area.
Law enforcement officials received numerous complaints about the number of people, Commission President Jedd Schola said, adding he actually went to the scene with Barbour County deputies and was upset by what he saw.
“It was just disrespect for the community of Arden,” he said. “Myself and Commissioner Phil Hart both received phone calls from residents who live down there.”
Barbour County Sheriff Phil Ferguson was unavailable for comment at press time Wednesday, but Schola said at least one arrest was made for driving under the influence and numerous vehicles were towed from the area.
Every year, Barbour County officials must conduct rescue operations on the river when someone underestimates the dangers of the current. Each year also usually brings at least one drowning, Schola said.
“People who don’t live there don’t know the dangers,” Schola said.
In addition, the sheer number of people, not to mention the parking violations, made the situation a nightmare for emergency responders.
“When we got out of the cruisers, we had to walk a mile and a half to get to ‘Party Rock.’ That’s how far they had the road blocked,” he said. “If something had happened, we wouldn’t have been able to get to them quickly.”
Incidents like this cause a strain on emergency services, the local community and the area’s reputation, officials said in their press release.
“It is not our desire to prohibit citizens access to the river for recreational use, but during occurrences such as on Aug. 27, law enforcement considers this area a dangerous location that has claimed many lives, mostly those who are unfamiliar with the river’s swift current and dangerous rapids,” the release said. “It is our hope that visitors take this communication as a word of caution and know the dangers with this section of Tygart River.
“Please be advised that underage drinking will not be tolerated, littering is unlawful, and designated ‘no parking’ areas will be enforced. Lastly, visitors are expected to show consideration and respect to the Arden community during their visit.”
A letter has been sent to local colleges and universities asking for help to inform their student body of this information
“The residents of the Arden community are very protective of that river and they keep it clean. We don’t want to discourage people, but just obey the law and be respectful of the citizens who live down there,” Schola said.