People weren't happy with some of the changes in McCall for the annual 4th of July celebration last year....no more drinking at public parks and beaches...no parking boats at North Beach. Another big change is coming again this year...but this is one that most people will be happy about especially if you like spending time at North Beach.

McCall community leaders are seeking to build on last year's efforts to create a safe and healthy 4th of July atmosphere free of alcohol in city parks and public areas. Part of that effort is to eliminate misconceptions about local alcohol restrictions during the 4th of July. Confusion that reigned last year, apparently because of some of us in the media.

Apparently some Boise media outlets mistakenly reported that alcohol was banned community wide and North Beach was completely closed, which officials say couldn't be further from the truth. Certain city parks are designated as alcohol-free zones. However, this was and is not a citywide alcohol ban.

Like last year, the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation will not allow alcoholic beverages at Ponderosa State Park or at North Beach on Payette Lake from July 1 through July 4; however, both areas will remain open to the public. In addition, the Valley County Sheriff's Office, recently announced it is loosening holiday boating restrictions at North Beach this year.

Last year, North Beach wasn’t closed to the public, as some people believed or had been told…it was only closed to the public that was trying to get to the beach with a motor boat…you could still drive, park and walk into North Beach...or take you boat to within 300 feet of North Beach, park and swim to the beach.....WTF?

I was in McCall for the 4th of July last year and took a boat to North Beach to see if the restrictions had any affect…boy did they…. North Beach was almost completely empty.  Keep in mind this is arguably the best and most popular beache on Payette lake and it had only a few groups of people on the beach during what is supposed to be one of the most popular weekends of the year.

Also last year there was a 300 foot “no boat” zone in front of North Beach…so if you wanted to get to the beach from your boat, you had to swim 300 feet to get there…uh, no thanks. That’s a really long way to swim back and forth just to enjoy a little beach time.  So thank goodness the city has announce a slight…or rather big change to North Beach access this year..

In addition to the usual non-motorized activities, Valley County Sheriff's
will open a 150-foot section of beach to motorized watercraft
this 4th of July weekend. North Beach boater access will start where the North Fork of the Payette River flows into Payette Lake and extend 150 feet east. Valley County will also move the buoy line 100 feet closer to shore in line with standard no-wake zones on Payette Lake.

The McCall Area Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau is publishing
a "10 Days of Fourth of July Fun" guide highlighting events slated for
June 30-July 9 to help visitors navigate planned festivities.
The guide includes sections for family friendly activities and things to do as adults and includes a map identifying where alcohol and parking restrictions will be observed.

...and of course don't miss the amazing McCall fireworks display over Payette Lake......