Published 7/18/04

A reveler leaps from the platform of a raft on the Connecticut River during yesterday’s annual Tubestock event.
(Valley News — James M. Patterson)

Fun Rules at Tubestock

By Bob Hookway

Valley News Staff Writer

Norwich -- Other than a handful of minor injuries, including a cut foot, the annual Tubestock celebration on the Connecticut River went smoothly yesterday, according to supervisors from the Norwich Police Department and Windsor County Sheriff's Department.

As the participants -- mostly Dartmouth College students -- clustered on tubes and rafts in the river just north of the Ledyard Bridge, some 20 officers from several agencies kept a sharp eye on events in the water and along Route 5 at the river entry points. One of their main goals at the daylong event was to make sure the celebrants -- many of whom had been drinking, some heavily — walked safely along the highway and stayed inside a row of bright orange cones that separated them from passing vehicles.

“Every year we go through this, and we just count our blessings that nobody gets hurt,” Windsor County Sheriff's Capt. Tom Herb said as he stood between the pedestrians and vehicles on the east side of Route 5. Herb said a system of shuttle buses that fraternity representatives had arranged helped greatly to keep foot traffic to a minimum. The buses ran regularly across the bridge to and from Hanover throughout the day, hauling revelers and their homemade nautical equipment between New Hampshire and Vermont.

Herb said the most serious incident he heard about came early in the day when someone jumped from a roof into the water and hurt his back. But Herb said he believed the injury was minor.

The threats of rain and possible thundershowers were just that as the day proved to be among the warmest this year with plenty of sunshine.

“It was awesome! I wasn't expecting sun, and there was sun,” said Dana LaMendola of Westport, Conn., a member of the Dartmouth class of 2006.

One of the larger rafts featured a makeshift diving tower from which partiers, sometimes in tandem, plunged into the Connecticut as four New Hampshire Marine Patrol boats circled nearby.

A couple of first-timers, Dartmouth student Jessica Vyrostko, 20, of Toronto and her 18-year-old sister, Julia Holder, who was visiting her at the college, said they were apprehensive about attending yesterday after hearing some of the stories from years past.

“I was told that as the rafts break apart, there'd be boards with nails in them floating around in the water,” Vyrostko said.

“We weren't going to go in, at first,” her sister, from Peterborough, Ontario, added. But as they left, both decided the stories had been exaggerated. They said they were glad they'd attended, and ended up spending several hours at the event.

No one has been lost in the nearly 20 years the unofficial college party has taken place. As he directed traffic yesterday, Norwich Police Chief Stephen Soares said no one had disappeared in the water yesterday, either. “Not yet, thank God.”

As he struggled up the riverbank, student Ryan Goldhahn of Stockton, Calif., said this was the third Tubestock event he'd attended. “Everyone on campus is out on the river. It's the summer experience for everyone.”

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