Over the weekend, on an island in Northern California's Shasta Lake, there was a party. A big party. Perhaps, the biggest party.
To be sure, there are often parties on Shasta Lake, the Northern California reservoir where university students from all over the West come to drink on house boats.
For reference, here's a video of a different Shasta weekend:
But last weekend was unusual.
Phyllis Swanson, a spokesperson for Shasta Trinity National Forest, estimates there were around 1,000 people on Slaughterhouse Island in Lake Shasta over the weekend, with "60 houseboats plus some patio boats."
And then, they were gone. But they will never be forgotten. Partly because pictures of the carnage they wreaked have so far been shared 9,563 times on Facebook.
And partly because of what Swanson calls the "tremendous amount of garbage and personal belongings that were just abandoned" when they left, a lot of it with somewhat suspicious identifying marks, like the letters from the Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity and the University of Oregon's logo.
According to Rob Sandbloom, sergeant in charge of the boating unit for the Shasta County Sheriff's Department, "It was just a typical weekend."
"When the college kids come down here," he says, "We have all of our boats out on the water."
Some citations were issued but no arrests were made.
Swanson says that while the Forest Service wasn't aware of the massive party over the weekend, they came across the aftermath—as did the locals and others who took the pictures now circulating on Facebook.
Partying at Lake Shasta is a ritual for students from many schools, including Oregon and Oregon State, as is leaving behind loads of garbage, "but nothing ever to this extent," says Swanson.
Between 90 and 100 abandoned tents were found on the island, along with sleeping bags, air mattresses, personal belongings, food and "of course alcohol."
When asked why they might have just abandoned so much personal property, Sandbloom says, "My personal guess is they have no respect for mankind, but professionally, I don't know."
Swanson finds this dispiriting.
"We recognize this is an economic benefit," says Swanson, about the use by partiers of Lake Shasta, but this type of misuse "makes this area unusable."
"This type of event puts a great amount of stress on us," she adds. "We're low on resources and now we have to pull people from other programs to help with the clean-up."
Ten yards of trash have already been gathered, and Swanson says they are far from done. As for the culprits: "Law enforcement is involved and they're investigating," says Swanson, though no one can be sure who the guilty parties are.
"I can't say who was there," says Swanson. "Anyone can have an Oregon bag."
Lambda Chi Alpha and the University of Oregon have yet to respond to WW's requests for comment.
UPDATE, 4:55 pm: The University of Oregon has issued a statement on this weekend's activities:
In response to an incident on the weekend of May 21 in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest in Northern California, the University of Oregon issued the following statement from Robin Holmes, vice president for student life:
The manner in which the Shasta-Trinity forest area was left is disgraceful.
Trips to this area have become an annual event for fraternities and sororities all along the West Coast. It is one the University of Oregon does not sponsor or condone in any way.
The university is actively investigating the situation and will take action as appropriate. We are working with authorities to learn all we can and determine who is responsible.
One fraternity national organization, Zeta Omicron Zeta, has taken the commendable step of suspending all of its chapters’ activities until the situation is addressed. We hope other national organizations will follow their lead.
Vice President for Student Life
University of Oregon