The great outdoor drinking party of the Santa Clarita Valley may have been driven out of existence.
California Highway Patrol officer Ralph Elvira would like to think so, anyway. But he fears it has just gone indoors.
Elvira listens to citizens band radio, which teen-agers have been using to plan Friday and Saturday night drinking sorties to the canyons of the semi-rural area.
When Elvira and his partner, Officer Ben Dibene, find out where the party is, they go and check it out.
Citations Are Issued
After a month of this, they have issued about 40 citations for possession of alcohol by a minor and confiscated a lot of hooch, Elvira said.
Now it's quiet on the CB. Too quiet.
"The word gets out," Elvira said. "We're lucky if we can find somebody up there now."
He knows they're still out there.
"They're just looking for a place to go on weekends," he said. "They're looking for a place where nobody's going to bother them and they can sit in their car and drink and get away with it."
The trouble is, the party-goers tend to get drunk and then drive.
"People became aware of it in June, 1985, when there were hundreds of teen-agers at Live Oak campgrounds," Elvira said.
After that party, a Sand Canyon High School student was killed in a traffic accident, he said. This May, another juvenile was killed in an accident caused by drunk driving, he said.
Complaints Prompt Patrol
About a month ago, when complaints of teen-age drinking parties began coming in, the Newhall CHP office assigned Elvira and Dibene to crack down on them, at least until the end of summer.
"We just thought we ought to do something before somebody got killed," CHP spokesman Harry Ingold said.
On Friday and Saturday nights, Elvira and Dibene tune in to the CB, make the rounds of the known canyon party spots--places with names like "The Watering Hole"--and check with young informants who may know where a party will be held.
"As far as the parties in the canyons, it's under control," Elvira said. "But, every weekend, there are big parties in residences."
He said they are not routine neighborhood parties. With the mountain sites cut off, the CHP officer said, word quickly spreads about the indoor alternatives, and the parties draw hundreds of teen-agers from a wide area with crowds often spilling into the street.
Plans now are for the party unit to be around into the fall, Elvira said.