‘Good spirits’ on St. Paddy’s Day

A sea of green once again took over Ezra Avenue and the areas surrounding Wilfrid Laurier University this Tuesday with St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in full swing.

A reported 5,000 students — up from 4,000 last year — made their way to Ezra during peak time and over 100 Waterloo Regional Police Service officers were on scene on Ezra Ave., the tent party on Seagram Drive and the surrounding area to help combat the crowds and enforce by-laws.

The tent party was sold out at approximately 3,500 tickets.

Overall, the day was positive with no major incidents.

“The crowd was very well-behaved, all things considered,” said Alana Holtom, corporate communications coordinator for WRPS. “We were issuing tickets regularly throughout the day and on an ongoing basis. People were fairly respectful and understanding.”

Although officers were ready and on scene as early as 10 a.m., the crowd didn’t start picking up until closer to 1 p.m. A chilly wind stuck around for the majority of the day, which may have attributed to the later start.

“I think we were mostly surprised that the crowd was collecting later in the day than usual, so we had quite a few resources out early in the morning and then we sort of extended them throughout the day,” Holtom explained.

Students also seemed to spread their celebrations to other areas around Laurier. Holtom said police resources were sent to offshoot streets to deal with keggers and people on roofs more than in the past.

Students seemed fairly cooperative with officers enforcing by-laws.

A number of students were issued tickets for drinking and possession of an open container, but did not contest.

Officers were also engaging with students by taking pictures, giving high fives and talking to students at certain houses.

Waterloo mayor Dave Jaworsky also walked through the crowd on Ezra Ave. alongside police chief Bryan Larkin. Incoming Wilfrid Laurier University Students’ Union president Olivia Matthews was also walking around engaging with students.

“We had the resources in place that we were in need of and our officers had a great time engaging with students and party-goers and stepped in whenever they needed to,” Holtom said.

The majority of students seemed to enjoy all the festivities.

Rachael Hargan, a fourth-year communications student at Laurier, joined the party on Ezra around 3 p.m. She said the crowd felt around the same size as last year.

“I heard it was pretty dead in the morning, but I wasn’t here for that,” she said. “It’s fun. It’s a good time. Everyone’s in good spirits.”

Vick Byers, a psychology student at Laurier, said she gets annoyed with the crowds on Ezra Ave. She’s been on Ezra every year, but said it gets too busy.

“It’s fun on Ezra in the buildings, but then I came out on the streets and I got really annoyed,” she said.

Holtom attributes WRPS’ ability to control the crowd to their proactive approach. Officers would go with the flow and adjust their plans as necessary.

For example, officers working at the tent party would approach students before they got into line to empty their beer bottles. In the past, this would not be done until students were in line.

“Our operational plan was really thorough and we were able to be flexible for anything that came up today,” Holtom said.

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