Biscayne National Park will not be open for Columbus Day festivities this year because of the federal government shutdown.
The park is known to attract boaters who celebrate the Columbus Day Regatta, but they won’t be allowed to party within the park because it’s closed.
The official regatta, which does not get into the park, will still take place, however.
"The usual planned debauchery at Elliott Key is in all intents and purposes closed or cancelled this year,” said the event’s chairman, Marc Pincus. “The Columbus Day Regatta, the sailboat regatta that is almost 60 years old, will be going on as normal."
The park initially discouraged boaters from having “rowdy parties” but said they welcomed “visitors to come and enjoy a weekend boating responsibly in the park,” park officials said in September.
Now the park is officially closed – except to fishermen.
“Biscayne National Park has some very specific provisions that allow for fishing to continue, even during a government shutdown,” Park Superintendent Brian Carlstrom said.
He is encouraging people to stay away from the park.
Despite the shutdown, various employees and rangers continue to work, not knowing if they will receive a payment from the government.
"The park has a staff of accepted employees on duty, primarily law enforcement to provide emergency responses," said Carlstrom. He continues to work and says he hopes to receive back pay or compensation for his work.
At a nearby marina Wednesday, fishermen such as Tim Kelly were aware that they could cast a line within Biscayne National Park’s waters, but expressed frustration that it is closed to everything else.
"It’s a true shame that we’ve come to this part in the government that we’re shutting down where we live,” Kelly said.
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