Tourists armed with their selfie sticks are flocking to a California town by the thousands to get a glimpse of the rare occurrence known as the “super bloom,” making it “unbearable” for the locals.
The city of Lake Elsinore was plagued with nearly 150,000 people over the weekend who flocked to area to see orange patches of poppies carpeting the rolling hillsides, forcing the temporary closure of a canyon.
“We truly understand how difficult this natural phenomenon has been on our residents,” the city said on social media. “This is something unlike anything we have ever experienced in our City and may never again.”
Things got so bad, the city declared it a “public safety crisis.”
“People are creating chaos out there and we have already had an injury,” the city said.
Lake Elsinore had tried to prepare for the crush of people drawn by the super bloom, a rare occurrence, which began during the last week of February. The phenomenon usually happens about once a decade because it requires a wet winter and warm temperatures that stay above freezing.
It offered a free shuttle service to the top viewing spots, but it wasn’t enough.
“The city has expended all available resources to address the #SuperBloom,” reads a post on social media. “We have brought in all available staff, as many outside traffic controllers that we could, more shuttles, and our small city can not sustain crowds of this magnitude – our city is not made for Disneyland size crowds.”
Speaking with the Associated Press, two photographers hired for an engagement shoot, said it was nearly impossible to get a photo without someone walking in the background. They said the place was also littered with trash.
“You see this beautiful pristine photo of nature, but then you look to the left and there’s plastic Starbucks cups and water bottles on the trail and selfie sticks and people having road rage because some people were walking slower,” the photographer described to the news agency.
A natural resources manager for Riverside County Parks told SFGATE people were trampling the flowers, just for a selfie.
“People love to get out there and get their Instagram photos,” Jonathan Reinig said. “They’ll plop themselves in the middle and trample the flowers. People need to stay on the path.”
This is why we can’t have things. Here’s a look at some photos of the “super bloom.”