It happens all day from approximately 7 am until about 11 pm. For the approximate times of the trains, check out Amtrak's web site is: www.amtrak.com.
Who is in charge? No one. No one organizes or is responsible for this annual event. Everyone who attends helps make it
a safe, fun & successful day.
What does the event cost? There is no admission charge
What about the police? Sheriff: As in past years, the area will be patrolled by the Orange County Sheriff for the City of Laguna Niguel. That said, there can be absolutely NO "controlled substances", carrying an alchoholic beverage outside, exposing certain prohibited body parts or hasseling with the sheriff deputies. The deputy people have been very considerate and liberal in the past. Please don't ruin it for the future.
Will there be newspapers & TV cameras? Every year you can count on reporters & photographers from the newspapers and Videographers for TV. They usually come around noon, stick around for an hour or so interviewing people, then leave so they can make their late aftrnoon deadline. How you interact with the press is up to you, but since you are in a public place they have the legal right to take your picture.
What if I want to see it from the train? On the train you'll only be able to photograph or video through the glass windows as the train rolls by. Some train engineers slow down for the event, others speed up (like Metrolink.) Some trains will have windows that open (which will eliminate glare on your photos) but most do not. Amtrak has nothing to do with this "show."
What happens after dark? After 8pm, Night Mooning starts. Bring a flash light with plenty of batteries, or better yet, bring a Coleman propane or gasoline fuel camping lantern. Some bring a wire coat hanger to make a hook to hang your lantern from the chain link fence. The area is dark at night as there aren't any street lights along the road here. Night Mooning is better because: it is less crowded, cooler temperature, and more authentic.
Must I "moon", or can I just watch? No, You can watch.
Does It get hot here in July? Yes, mid-day it is usually about 95°F (35°C) and humid.
Should I bring food & drink? If you wish. Mugs Away Saloon will be serving cold beverages. An outdoor vendor will be
grilling hamburgers for sale and another selling souvenir event T-shirts.
Are pets O.K. to bring? Yes, you can bring your dog, cat, snake, parrot, or iguana. Don't forget water for them.
Can I decorate my butt? Yes, that's O.K.
What happens in the saloon? There are two successive bands inside the Mugs Away Saloon from Noon till closing, which is about midnight.
Can the physically handicapped get around this area? Yes, a wheel-chair should work just fine. There are no stairs to climb. Close-in car parking spots may be difficult to find.
Disclaimer: Attending this event may be hazardous due to the large concentration of silly people, cars, motorcycles,
motorhomes, concrete vehicle wheel-stops, potholes in the parking-lots and pets. Everyone present is responsible for their own actions. If you trip on something, or hurt yourself, you alone are responsible. There is no one to sue. No one either promotes this nor charges admission. If you do come, act safely! If you're accident prone, go somewhere else where you'll be safer. Neither Mugs Away Saloon, The City of Laguna Niguel nor Amtrak are responsible for this event, nor for assuring your safety. The City & the railroad would rather you didn't bother coming to this event. No one is carrying public liability insurance for this. Besides, would any insurance underwriter insure an event called, "Mooning Amtrak"?
Many many thanks to: The City Council of Laguna Niguel, The Sheriff of Orange County, OCRRA (owners of the rail rightof-
way), Metrolink Rail Agency and of course, our beloved AMTRAK, for their tolerance and contemporary open-mindedness.
HOW THE TRADITION STARTED
The best answer the story of the birth of the Mooning tradition, says 20 years ago (1979), at The Mugs Away Saloon, a K.T.Smith told his buddies he'd buy a drink for all who would run outside to the rail road tracks and "moon" the next train, which many did. Word spread, and the local newspaper, The Orange Country Register, ran a story about it. The
story attracted more people to the bar, and the tradition began. In order to keep the mooning under control the Orange County
Sheriff’s Department made a verbal agreement with the bar not to arrest anyone as long as it only happened one day each year
and certain rules of decorum were maintained. The mooning tradition has prevailed, but there is no longer a volunteer to buy free drinks for thousands of "Mooners". Locals estimate that more than 8,000 people annually participate in the tradition. \
AND THE TRADITION CONTINUES!
It occurs the second Saturday in July each year and lasts for but a brief few seconds each hour. At any given time there are bout a hundred people gather along the chain link fence in the parking lot. When that crowd leaves it is replaced by a new group who can’t wait to bare their butts to the next set of passing trains. It is most crowded between 10am and 4pm.
The year we went, there was a definite carnival atmosphere among the crowds of people with cars, camper trucks, motor homes and motorcycles parked all along the street. Some people brought their pets along: I saw dogs, cats, a snake, a parrot, and even an iguana. There was even a guy in a wheelchair, who carefully stood up for a few seconds and dropped his pants as the train rolled by.
“The law enforcement deputies have been very considerate and liberal in the past,” said one non-organizer. “We warn people not to expose anything except their butts to the train. As long as we follow those guidelines, we never get hassled.” Those may be the unofficial rules, but at least once each hour you can count on a pair of female breasts being revealed as well.
For passengers on the train, this also seems to be an anticipated event. The Amtrak line parallels Interstate highway 5, and
trains carry passengers between Los Angeles and San Diego. Unlike most Saturdays, the Amtrak cars are filled to near-capacity
with passengers to see the "moon show." Most trains actually slow down to half speed as they approach “Ground Zero” so that
people with cameras and camcorders can record the view through the large glass windows.
Inside Mugs Away is a wall of photos commemorating the rears of hundreds of people who have participated over the years.
The bar also sells souvenir T-shirts and even a DVD movie. Adding to the festivities, a band named the “Moonies” (what
else?) plays inside from noon until the last train passes around midnight. During the day the bar serves cold beverages and an outdoor vendor grills hamburgers.
After dark, “Night Mooning” has become popular also. Participants bring flashlights or Coleman propane or gasoline fuel
camping lanterns and hang them on the chain link fence with wire coat hangers. Said one mooner, “I like night mooning better because it is less crowded, the air temperature is a little cooler.
Locals claimed that in 26 years they have never made an arrest or ticketed any of the participants, until 2008.
That year, police broke up the event after someone complained about public nudity and drinking. Apparantly a very loud pair of drunken women started lifting their tops to the train, and there were a few people who decided to be total nude. No arrests were made, authorities said.
[If you have ever been to the event, this is nothing new. It happens every year and nobody cares. – Ed.]
In anticipation of the 2009 event, the Laguna Niguel City Council approved two new ordinances that will make it unlawful to consume alcoholic beverages in public and urinate in public. According to Laguna Niguel Mayor Robert Ming, “Thousands of
rowdy partiers from out of town have forced us to take this action. This event happened for many years without problems, but
it has now gotten out of control. We cannot allow a situation where public safety and our local businesses are threatened.”
If you don’t go, you can follow the fun on Twitter at: www.Twitter.com/LagunaNiguelCA. Also: http://www.moonamtrak.org