Crime | August 3, 2020 1:20 pm

Illegal NYC Riverboat Party Busted Over the Weekend

A party of more than 170 guests was hosted on the Liberty Belle

boat party
Remember when boat parties were just a normal thing instead of a sign of reckless negligence?
Getty Images/EyeEm

In better times, the Liberty Belle’s four bars and three outdoor decks host up to 600 guests for swanky NYC boat parties, fundraisers and other splashy events on the water. But in pandemic times, the riverboat hosts illicit gatherings in violation of state and city social-distancing orders, like the one that took place on Saturday night.

The boat was used to host a party of more than 170 guests over the weekend in what the New York Times‘  Mihir Zaveri called “yet another symbol of reckless socializing during the pandemic.”

It’s unclear what kind of party was hosted on the Liberty Belle, but authorities reportedly received complaints about a well-attended party boat departing Manhattan’s Lower East Side around 8:30 p.m. Saturday night. Authorities boarded the boat when it returned around 11:30 p.m.

The boat’s owners, Ronny Vargas and Alex Suazo, were arrested for the illicit party and accused of violating multiple laws, including operating an unlicensed bar and bottle club. The unnamed boat captain was reportedly issued a summons for failing to properly display the boat’s identification number, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

The illegal Liberty Belle party is the latest in a string of controversial social gatherings found to be in violation of social-distancing guidelines, many of which seem to be taking place among certain affluent East Coast communities. Last month, a charity concert in the Hamptons featuring The Chainsmokers drew ire as an example of reckless pandemic-era partying among the wealthy, while teen parties in Greenwich, Connecticut have been blamed for a recent “mini surge” in coronavirus cases in the area.

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