A rare phenomenon attracted so many visitors to a Southern California town that officials declared a public safety emergency.
The “super bloom,” as it’s called, has drawn tens of thousands of people to Lake Elsinore. The town briefly cut off access to the poppy fields on Sunday, calling the crowding “unbearable.”
Southern California’s especially wet winter has created an explosion of color for one of Mother Nature’s most dazzling displays: hillsides overrun with poppies.
One visitor called it “magical” another said it’s “the most picturesque thing I’ve ever seen in my life.”
But it might be too much of a good thing for Lake Elsinore where, according to the mayor, there have been fights over parking spaces and people trampling over the flowers, reports CBS News’ Jamie Yuccas.
The town of about 60,000 saw roughly 100,000 visitors on Sunday, forcing Mayor Steve Manos to declare a “poppy apocalypse.”
“We have some residents who are not used to this type of traffic and attention that are concerned about their ability to go ahead and operate on a daily basis,” Manos said.
It got so bad, the Mayor says one of his employees was clipped by a car and the city is now reaching out to the county and even the state for help.
With social media driving the poppy frenzy, some worry the allure of a perfect post might be harming the star of nature’s show.
“People sitting in the flowers for that one picture, that I know it’s special to have that picture with you and the poppies, but then you’re ruining them for other people in the future,” said Melissa Waters.
The town reopened the site Monday saying it was not “not feasible for us to keep visitors away,” though they noted access and parking was limited.
“We’ve gone through fires and floods, we’ll get through the flowers,” Mayor Manos said.
He’s not alone. Other parks in the region are just starting to see their flowers bloom, which means poppy mania is infectious and spreading. For now, there’s no cure in sight.