Rave in the Dunes?


By Jacob Wheeler
Sun editor

Local law enforcement believe they may have stopped a massive and illegal rave party from taking place at North Bar Lake last Saturday night. Dozens of police cars were deployed to Empire by the Leelanau County Sheriff’s Office, in coordination with the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and sheriff’s departments from Grand Traverse and Benzie County.

Eye witnesses reported a massive police buildup at North Bar Lake, just outside Empire, and vehicles driven by young people indiscriminately pulled over. Officials confirmed that routine traffic citations were issued, including safety belt violations and a charge for marijuana possession.

The event, “Project No Sleep” had been posted on Facebook for months, with invitations sent out to more than 5,000 people — most under the age of 30. More recently, organizer Devonte Martin, who claims to work at The Homestead resort, picked June 6 as the date for the party. According to the Facebook page, the party has been postponed until June 20.

“I believe our presence there had a great deterrence,” said Leelanau County Sheriff Mike Borkovich. “We put a lot of people in that area based on intel. We had heard about potential marijuana use; we had heard about potential heroin use. We don’t need that up in the community. We don’t need any more drug overdoses like there have been in Benzie.”

“A permit is required to hold any kind of event on public lands. Because of the tremendous number of people potentially coming to event, we wanted to stop it before it happened.”

Borkovich wouldn’t reveal how many officers were involved, how many resources the action required, or how many citations were issued.

According to Phil Akers, chief ranger at the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, the authorities had been following the alleged party for months. In fact, the Leelanau County Sheriff’s blog warned on Friday, June 5, of its impending police action — the day before the event was scheduled to happen.

“There was talk of possible music, adult beverages and talk of drug use, which we would not allow,” said Akers. “We want to protect our natural resources.”

Both Borkovich and Akers confirmed that an illegal party of this size within the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore appeared unprecedented.