Mississippi River teems with law enforcement for Tug Fest

Local News

City, state and federal officers take the waters

Thousands of people will be in Port Byron, Illinois this weekend for Tug Fest.

A fireworks show is among tonight’s highlights.

A lot of people will be watching all of the activity from the water.

Weeks of preparation go into Tug Fest by both competitors and organizers.

Several agencies come together to make sure that these waters are safe throughout the weekend.

“Any time we shut the river down, like we will tonight for the fireworks, we have to make sure everybody’s safe, nobody’s blowing through making chaos for us,” says Tony Decap, Assistant Fire Chief of the Hillsdale Fire Department.

The department is one of at least a dozen agencies monitoring the Mississippi River this weekend at the city, state and federal levels.

“This is the only one I know of in the country that actually shuts down for a tug,” says Jamie Posateri an Illinois Conservation Police officer.

Jamie Posateri with Illinois Conservation Police has been doing this for more than a decade.

She helps keep boaters out of the safety zone.

“The U.S. Coast Guard will be responsible for shutting down the river. They actually shutdown a specific area for no barge traffic and then once it gets closer to the fireworks being shot off then they’ll set up a safety zone and then there’s no boats. People will either float out or anchor at that point,” Posateri says.

With dozens of boats expected on the water tonight and through the weekend she’s reminding people of their life jackets and working lights.

“It’s something you want to do before you get on the water so that you don’t get stranded and we don’t want any accidents tonight,” Posateri says.

And mind the alcohol limit– .08 whether you’re driving on land or on the water.

A larger portion of the river will be shut down for a longer period of time tomorrow afternoon for the actual tug, which means all of those officers will be back out on the water.

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