Who said the Kings River isn’t fun just because it’s unsafe to go floating downstream?
While floating and tubing on the Kings still is dangerous – and currently illegal – one company took advantage of river overflow from the weekend and threw a party of sorts.
With water no deeper than 3 1/2 feet in the fenced 1-acre area, many gathered to play volleyball, gently float in a tube, play beer pong, or just hang out while sitting in a chair surrounded by the shallow water.
“It was a great turnout,” said Preston Baker, an owner of the Wakehouse Woodfire Grill and Barrel. “I think people are starving for an opportunity to get in the Kings River this hot summer.”
The shallow-water area was fenced, which ensured no one went beyond the calm “safe zone.” In addition, security personnel were positioned to guarantee that people didn’t somehow end up in the rapidly moving Kings River, which has been deemed unsafe to swim in so far this summer.
The restaurant’s backyard area flooded last weekend because of the rising water along the Kings swollen by snowmelt that intensified in the triple-digit heat last week. Water flow in the Kings is controlled by releases from Pine Flat Dam, which reached capacity last weekend.
Homeowners along the Kings River farther south in Kingsburg had to evacuate because of the rising water.
Realizing the Reedley restaurant’s backyard area would be flooded over the weekend, Wakehouse Woodfire Grill and Barrel decided that rather than close for the day, it would throw a “river party.”
“When it floods, we dance,” one of the restaurant’s Facebook postings said.
The backyard area usually is used for concerts, such as July 15 when ’90s band Everclear is scheduled to perform.
Wakehouse Woodfire Grill and Barrel’s backyard area has since dried up and the restaurant doesn’t anticipate another river party gathering.
“If it floods again, we … will do it again,” Baker said. “Ideally, it wouldn’t flood.
“Maybe by July, it’ll be fine to float on the Kings River again.”
Concert along the Kings River
EVERCLEAR PERFORMING AT WAKEHOUSE WOODFIRE GRILL AND BARREL
- Vitals: 6 p.m. July 15 in Reedley
- Popular Everclear songs: “Father of Mine,” “Santa Monica,” “I Will Buy You a New Life”
- In case the concert area floods: The concert will be in the restaurant parking lot.