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Mysterious sound haunted California town. It turned out to be a birthday party

The next morning, the father of the birthday boy marched him to City Hall for a chat with the mayor.
Energetic Scene Of People On Dancefloor At Nightclub
A 20-year-old man who threw himself a birthday party, wound up disturbing his California neighbors all night long.Hinterhaus Productions / Getty Images stock
/ Source: TODAY

Throbbing bass music that rattled California households and triggered a City Hall investigation, was traced to an all-night birthday party.

On Saturday evening, residents of Richmond, San Pablo and El Sobrante, located in Contra Costa County, were awoken by repetitive electronic beats that began around 10 p.m.

Mayor Tom Butt told TODAY Parents that "hundreds and hundreds" of complaints were posted to Facebook and the NextDoor neighbor app about the mystery music, which didn’t stop until 10 a.m. the following morning.

"I have two sons who live nearby and they said the music was shaking their homes," said Butt. "One woke up at 2:30 am and couldn't go back to sleep."

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According to the mayor, residents were so perturbed that many got dressed and drove around town searching for the cause.

"I offered a $500 reward to anyone who can crack the mystery," said Butt.

The next day, tips rolled in from three people — including two attendees of what turned out to be a birthday party for a 20-year-old.

The young man had thrown himself an all-night bash in a vacant parking lot under a large tent along the Richmond Parkway, an underdeveloped industrial area that's sparsely populated.

"People loaded pickup trucks with high-quality amplifiers and parked it in front of a stage," said Butt. One of the hosts, he explained, had access to the parking lot because the company he worked for had leased it for storage.

The tipsters sent Butt a copy of the invitation, video footage from the night and photos of license plates on cars parked at the event. "It was extremely helpful," said Butt.

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A spokesperson for the Richmond Police Department did not immediately reply to TODAY Parents’ request for comment.

According to an email forwarded to TODAY Parents by Butt, the volume likely violated ordinances that prohibited "excessive noise, annoying noise, amplified sound or vibrations that are physically annoying to reasonable persons of normal sensitivity..." And because the noise emanated from a vehicle, the violation is a misdemeanor.

TODAY Parents could not reach a co-host of the birthday party.

The mayor offered to split the $500 reward between the two informants. "I asked for their addresses and didn't hear back, so I've been sitting on the money," he said.

Butt said when the father of the birthday boy learned about the party, he reached out to the mayor who invited them to City Hall for a chat.

"They showed up but I was busy at the time," said Butt. "For a joke, I suggested they turn themselves in to the police."

"A party would have been fine but the sound traveled up to six miles," said Butt. "It drove people crazy."