Kingston police are bracing for another night of revelry by Queen’s University students after nearly two dozen arrests were made Friday night.
The university announced in November that traditional fall homecoming celebrations would be cancelled for at least two years due to safety concerns.
But revellers refuse to give up the partying that accompanies the festivities and continue to throw unofficial “faux coming” parties.
With the football game underway Saturday afternoon, police had already responded to 18 incidents including three rowdy keg parties, numerous liquor violations, an indecent act, a vandalized car, a break and enter, and a report of kids throwing tree branches onto a bus.
Const. Mike Menor says about 23 people were arrested Friday night and early Saturday morning on charges ranging from assaulting a police officer to public intoxication. He adds that partiers threw objects at a prisoner van after arrests were made.
Menor says police have also seen a number of underage drinkers this weekend and that homecoming weekend is always taxing on police and Kingston residents, who are fed up with the resources being poured into the event.
Toronto police on horseback and riot police have been called in to assist local officers in dealing with the influx of debauchery.
But he adds that police expect Saturday night parties to be even more out of control because it is traditionally the major night for celebrations.
Menor says 11 officers on horseback helped keep the drunken party goers from flooding into the streets Friday night.
Aberdeen Street, in the heart of the student neighbourhood, was closed down in previous years to accommodate student partiers. Police will work to ensure the street remains open, but Menor suspects that some partiers will try to shut it down.
Menor says hotel rooms in Kingston are booked, with revellers come from all over to participate in the event, some of whom have no connection to the university. He says he hopes the rainy weather in Kingston will help deter crowds from gathering on Aberdeen Street.
Last year, an estimated 8,000 people jammed the street, and officers made nearly 140 arrests. Twenty-five Queen’s students were charged with illegally selling alcohol at parties last year and police seized the equivalent of 135 cases of beer.
Hospital emergency rooms overflowed with grossly intoxicated party goers.
Emergency room doctor James Landine sent a letter to Queen’s and civic leaders warning that “loss of life is inevitable if this continues.” The university then announced that the reunion celebrations would be cancelled for a minimum of two years.
Instead the university has started a “homecoming-styled” spring reunion.
About 200 Queen’s students have joined Facebook groups dedicated to reviving the event, one called “Save Queen’s Homecoming” and the other “Make Queen’s Faux coming Safe.”
– The Canadian Press