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Positive St. Patrick’s Day experience

St. Patrick’s Day, a traditional big party day for university students before they have to hunker down to finish essays and get ready for final exams, had the potential to be a “perfect storm” situation in Guelph this year. It fell on a Saturday, and on an unusually warm day that drew partying outside. As well, no big events such as concerts could be organized to entice students to stay on campus, because all large venues at the U of G were booked for College Royal.
However, Guelph got off relatively lightly in the end.
While police in London, Ont., faced a drunken mob that set a TV van on fire and pelted police with beer bottles, Guelph Police had the satisfaction of seeing their strategy for dealing with the event largely succeed. They were determined to avoid a repeat of last September’s university homecoming, which was also on a warm Saturday.
The strategy this past weekend included a more visible presence by police and the city’s bylaw enforcement officers in south end neighbourhoods where students tend to live in relatively large numbers. It also included police and bylaw officers being out earlier in the day than they were for September’s university homecoming, which saw numerous complaints from residents about drunken and disorderly behaviour in their neighbourhoods. To sweeten their interactions with people, police went equipped with green lollipops to hand out. The U of G’s neighbourhood relations department was also involved in the efforts to keep celebrations under control.
The potential for serious problems was clearly there, as shown by the need for police to break up a party of 200 to 300 people that had already got out of hand by shortly after lunch time on Saturday. This incident, one of 154 noise complaints that police investigated, led to the partial closure of Kortright Road for about 15 minutes.
However, for the most part, local revellers were “polite and respectful,” Guelph Police spokesperson Sgt. Doug Pflug said Monday. “All in all, we think that the planning we put into place . . . led to a very successful situation,” he said.
It was actually a lot of fun to see so many students wandering around dressed in green, with big grins on faces. A lot of credit is due to a lot of people for making St. Paddy’s Day mostly a positive experience here.

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