La Crosse, WI (WXOW) – During past Oktoberfest celebrations, the Mississippi River caused dangerous situations for people. To help keep festers away from the river, area students spent their Oktoberfest with Operation Riverwatch.
Since 2006 students from all three La Crosse universities sacrifice part of their Oktoberfest weekend to keep festers safe.
They patrol Riverside Park and downtown La Crosse throughout the night. The program aims to serve as a resource to people in need, while referring others to law enforcement.
Riverwatch leaders say it’s in an effort to save lives while assisting emergency responders.
“They help us a lot this weekend, they do a lot of patrolling around the streets,” Co-Director for Operation Riverwatch Ryan Send elaborates, “They deal with, primarily, most of the intoxicated individuals.”
Oktoberfest is typically a busy time for emergency responders. With the high number of incidents they respond to, Operation Riverwatch aims to alleviate some of the problems.
“Our job, primarily, is to just prevent people from falling in the river. So we patrol, we offer assistance. We have the aid station if someone needs bandages or anything like that, someone needs to be stitched up. If anyone is too intoxicated we can direct them to the officers,” Send explains.
Operation Riverwatch patrols until 3 in the morning, but they don’t only volunteer for Oktoberfest. Students spend time watching over Riverside Park every weekend throughout the school year.