Tube later, Dude: Labor Day has come to rival Halloween and St. Patrick’s Day as the day that makes young Chico residents and their guests look very, very stupid. Law enforcement agencies and student leaders are bracing themselves for the usually raucous event of floating inner tubes down the Sacramento River—and they’re not excited.

“Any day but Labor Day” is the Chico State University student government’s message this year, said Associated Students President Adam Dondro. “Labor Day is just a disaster on that river.”

Not only do the thousands of tubers put themselves in danger by drinking excessively or handling their floatation devices unsafely, but many also “trash” the river, leaving the banks strewn with beer cans and other garbage.

Janet Marshall, public information officer for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, said there was already a near-death on the river in recent weeks when a sober couple tubing responsibly happened to get caught up on a snag. The pair was rescued by passing fishermen.

Officers and volunteers from Butte and neighboring counties will be out in full force to patrol the river and rescue hapless tubers.

Tubers are advised not to tie tubes together, not to tie anything to their arms or legs and to limit alcohol intake.

Stroke, stroke: Hometown hero Haley Cope didn’t bring home a medal, but the Olympic backstroker does have one souvenir to show off to friends and family: She’s among the contestants who have posed nude for Playboy magazine.

Cope, who appears in the mag under her married name, Clark, told the Washington Post she’s proud of her body and the “respectful and tasteful” way Playboy photographed the athletes. (Cope’s poses included a diving position and one with water cascading over her slender, nude form.)

“I know it sounds lame,” Cope told the Post, “But it was really artistic.”

The former UC Berkeley mass communications student was the 2001 world champion in the 50-meter backstroke and is currently pictured on billboards around Chico, having grown up and trained with the Chico Aqua Jets.

Chico dribblers? Like inventing fun nicknames? Try this: Come up with the winning name for Chico’s new professional basketball team and win two season tickets and a hundred bucks’ worth of team gear.

You didn’t know Chico had a pro hoops team? Well, we don’t, actually.

Operating under the theme of “more speed, more points, more excitement,” the Portland-based International Basketball League is currently seeking host cities and potential owners for a new pro league set to kick off its inaugural season April 8, 2005. No Chico investors have stepped up yet, but the league believes in Chico’s potential and will sponsor an exhibition team. Tryouts for the team will be held Dec. 19.

To suggest a name or to register for tryouts, call the league at 1-866-IBL-GAME.