St. Paddy’s day well-monitored, largely unchanged

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Despite the best efforts of the City of Waterloo, the university and Waterloo Regional  Police Service , students gathered in  mass numbers on Ezra Ave. for St. Patrick’s Day. The tent party, presented as an alternative to the Ezra Ave. gathering sold out tickets and was well attended, but was not enough to counterbalance the appeal of the free, annual street party.

Prior to St. Patrick’s Day, police were shutting down parties, most notably confiscating 4500 “cold shot” cans from party planned by the The Loyal Order of the Waterbuffaloes. The party is an annual event and organizers emphasized that much of the ticket proceeds go to charity. The organization suffered a financial loss and the charity a large donation. Reason would suggest that an off-Ezra party would contribute to the security of safety of Ezra and reduce attendance numbers. Whatever the case, the Ezra gathering has proven resilient as it attracted crowds despite other options, cold weather and the day falling on a Monday.

Undoubtedly, shutting down parties is an unpopular decision, but the police should be credited with facilitating a safe celebration of the most popular party day of the year. In a contrast to the tone prior to Monday, police were in good spirits and often seen engaging with students and taking pictures. This contrast in tone, or perhaps more accurately an inconsistency, could be resolved easily with more open communication leading up to St. Patrick’s Day.

It should be interesting to see whether the City, police and university work to shut down Ezra next year or accept it as an annual event and focus efforts exclusively on managing crowds. An addition to the security apparatus this year was private security hired by landlords, which seemed to alleviate some property damage concerns. With the police working to shut down parties and seize alcohol prior to the day and working with private security to monitor Ezra on the day of, future years should result in further adaptations to the security approach.

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