Shelly Bay inappropriate for BHW Raft-Up
The Bermuda Heroes Weekend Raft-Up is advertised to take place again this year at Shelly Bay Beach. Last year, amid objections, this event was allowed to take place at this venue. Despite promises to the contrary, by 7am of the scheduled day, the entire beach, playground, field and parking lot areas were caged off to allow only those persons who were paying clients of the so-called Raft-Up.
The whole beach was set up with umbrellas for BHW clientele. Needless to say, there were some who were completely caught off-guard by such.
The main reason given for the use of Shelly Bay Beach last year, for this so-called Raft-Up, was that their usual venue would be occupied by America’s Cup activities. It is therefore a surprise to see that, once again, this popular public family beach will be restricted on Saturday, June 16, to conduct this non-family- oriented event.
A Raft-Up is defined as such by Wiktionary: the roping together of a number of small vessels to form a raft-like structure. A social gathering based on such a structure.
Another urban version states: when a group of sailboats gather for a weekend to get “way boozed”.
There are “raft-ups” that take place throughout the summer in Bermuda; and many visitors and residents have a great time participating. Raft-ups can, as is often when alcohol is involved, get quite raucous, so they take place at an ocean venue that does not infringe on the public’s right to have a pleasurable, family day, without debauchery, on the beach of their choice.
What is advertised and what happened last year was not a raft-up. It was an adult beach party attended mostly by, even for bathing suits, very scantily clad and alcohol-imbibing individuals. There was a raft positioned out in the water that entertained the participants and the surrounding neighbourhoods. It would be fair to say that some residents enjoyed the music, while to others it was an unwelcomed nuisance.
There were some boats out in the water, but most of those did not cater to the so-called Raft-Up beachgoers.
If the BHW is to continue with this activity, I would suggest that they have a true raft-up and find a suitable dock area from which their clients can embark and disembark as necessary, as well as that place in the wide ocean around the island where the boats can link up to create the party atmosphere that they wish. They can return to their original venue or maybe Cross Island or Mangrove Bay can be considered — non-residential and not popularly used by families.
If the BHW intends to have a beach party, involving extremely immodest bathing outfits and alcohol, then it should be advertised as such and take place where other beachgoers are not restricted or offended. As such, the Shelly Bay Beach, a family beach, is not the appropriate place for this kind of activity, even for this one day; which, if accepted, would have the potential to lead to more.
Otherwise, BHW along with the Bermuda Tourism Authority could entertain the idea of sponsoring a family-oriented beach party at Shelly Bay that would not include caging, entry fees, alcohol or dress and behaviours unbecoming of what we would expect of our residents or visitors.
That also would be an alternative invitation to visitors with families, in addition to being a more appropriate public celebration of Bermuda heroes.
Shelly Bay, Hamilton Parish
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