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Crackdown on Amtrak mooning in O.C.

July 10, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
Southern California may be known for its sunny skies, but the city of Laguna Niguel's reputation for the past three decades has revolved around the moon. Actually thousands of moons.Each year a crush of people line up along the railroad tracks in the city and bare their backsides to every Amtrak train that passes by. But now the sun may be setting on this mooning tradition.

"Hopefully it will be a much smaller event this year," said Mayor Robert Ming, Laguna Niguel.

Mayor Ming says last year the crowd numbered 10,000, a problem when the mooners grew rowdy and began urinating in public.

"Ninety percent of those people are coming from far away. They are parking their RVs along the street and coming to have a wild party. That's not what it's going to be like this year," said Mayor Ming.

So this year the Laguna Niguel City Council has instituted a crackdown. They've decided to ban parking up and down the tracks. And they've passed new laws designed to nip that party atmosphere in the bud.

"We're going to crackdown on the public urinating, alcohol in public and public intoxication," said Sgt. Sherrie Shahan from the Orange County Sheriff's Department.

Fans of the event say that the city is overreacting, that the mooning is safe and fun.

Bartender Rebecca Shahan says her saloon is usually packed the whole weekend of the event, but the police presence has scared them all away.

"Who wants to come to a bar when there is a million cops out there? They're driving by every five minutes back and forth," said Rebecca Shahan.

"This has been going on for 29 years. Why didn't they realize this five years ago? Now all of a sudden it's a big problem?" said Anthony Terzo, mooning fan.

It is a big problem. And the city sees the event as a bottomless source of grief. The long time tradition now finds itself on the wrong side of the cracks.

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