Underage drinking biggest issue at SnowGlobe Music Festival | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Underage drinking biggest issue at SnowGlobe Music Festival

Claire Cudahy
Over the course of the weekend, 148 SnowGlobe attendees were issued minors in possession charges.
Claire Cudahy / Tahoe Daily Tribune |


Click here to view a gallery from SnowGlobe 2016.

Underage drinking was the biggest issue at the 2016 SnowGlobe Music Festival, according to incident reports from South Lake Tahoe Police Department.

Out of 238 total arrests and citations, 148 were for minors in possession, up from 104 the year prior. New Year’s Eve saw the largest number of instances of underage drinking, with 76 citations issued that night alone.

Under California state law, the penalty for a person under the age of 21 drinking or possessing alcohol is a fine of $250 and 24 to 32 hours of community service for a first-time offence. A conviction will also result in a one-year driver’s license suspension.

South Lake Tahoe Police Department spokesman Lt. Brian Williams said the increase in minors in possession is most likely due to an increase in enforcement, not an increase in activity.

“This came about due to the tragic death of 19-year-old Alyssa Byrne, a minor under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs who wandered away from SnowGlobe and was found deceased the following morning in a snow bank on New Year’s Day of 2013,” said Williams.

“We increased our enforcement efforts in the area of minors in possession of alcohol and drugs to help protect our public.”

The second most frequent charge was for open container violations. Over the course of the three-day festival, 36 citations were issued for this offence.

There were 25 cases of trespassing, nine arrests for possession of methamphetamines, three charges of drunk in public, and three instances of furnishing or selling alcohol to minors.

Additionally, two people were charged with peeing in public, two with possession of marijuana and two others were found to be under the influence of a controlled substance.

There was one charge each made for drinking alcohol in a vehicle, having an open container in a vehicle, furnishing or selling tobacco products to a minor, littering, selling methamphetamines, possessing a controlled substance, minor in possession of a fake ID, and a parking violation.

Seventeen medical transports were made to Barton Memorial Hospital — two less than the year before.

“Each year the SLTPD, as well as each of the city of South Lake Tahoe departments contributing to SnowGlobe planning, reviews our response to the SnowGlobe event in detail,” explained Williams. “Our intent is to identify what went well, and also what can be done better so we can adjust our operational plans for the next event.”

For example, Williams noted that a lack of snow and the removal of several trees in the area, all natural sound barriers, resulted in a surge of noise complaints this year.

The Alcoholic Beverage Control, a state law enforcement agency from Sacramento, came up to aid local law enforcement during the busy holiday season, which included other large events at the casinos in Stateline.

Information on other violations and arrests connected to weekend events outside of SnowGlobe have not yet been released.

This was SnowGlobe’s sixth year. Each year approximately 15,000 people attend the festival, which brings in between $6-$10 million in spending, according to the city of South Lake Tahoe.

Though each year brings with it a stream of noise and traffic complaints from local residents, the city noted the financial benefits to the area, and granted a two-year contract extension to the festival this past July. The agreement expires Dec. 31, 2018.

Currently, the city of South Lake Tahoe contributes $25,000 to SnowGlobe, plus city staff hours, with an additional $5,000 to be added each year. A cap of $50,000 in contributions was set — the same amount donated by the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority.

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