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The Barge Party’s back

Andy Ouriel • Apr 10, 2014 at 7:40 PM

Local boating enthusiasts have resurrected a rambunctious yet popular bayside beach bash for this summer.

After a one-year hiatus, the Sandusky Bay Barge Party returns July 12.

Event organizers canceled the barge party in 2013, mainly for financial reasons and legal complications. But there’s no doubt the party is returning for one edition in 2014. In 2011 and 2012, the barge party occurred twice each summer. “I’ve had hundreds of people email me, write me, text me, Facebook me and ask me to bring it back” said Shaun Bickley, the event’s main coordinator. “So we are going to bring it back”    

Boaters and revelers flock from all over — Ohio, Michigan, even Canada and elsewhere — to gather at the sandbar in the lake waters just across from Cedar Point. They then anchor their boats and crowd around a barge, which organizers transport to the site.

The floating stage serves as the party’s centerpiece, featuring rock concerts, dance contests and other performances. “It’s great camaraderie and just good, fun times,” Bickley said. A typical barge party costs about $10,000. Bickley estimates he’ll need about $8,000 through sponsorships to make this year’s barge party a break-even venture.

For more info or to sponsor contact Bickley at 419-656-3893.

Event marred by underage drinking in ’12

The barge party has become a mainstay of Sandusky summers. Up until a few years ago it lacked any true controversy — until authorities arrested the event’s main coordinator and his family members.

In June 2012, authorities charged Shaun Bickley with complicity to sell alcohol without a license and furnishing alcohol to a minor. The charges were later reduced to a single count of disorderly conduct, a fourth-degree misdemeanor, after Bickley accepted a plea deal. Bickley paid a $100 fine and served 20 hours of community service. Additionally, Bickley’s son, Colt, was charged with underage consumption.

Authorities later dropped the charges, but Colt still had to attend alcohol classes and write an essay on his experience.

Colt, then 16, had been flipping burgers on a small barge when an undercover agent asked to buy a beer.

Colt reached into a communal case and sold the agent three beers. Bickley’s father, Joel, was also cited by the U.S. Coast Guard for operating a ferryboat without a license, although authorities dropped that charge as well.

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