Overcrowding, injuries mark St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in Kingston

Click to play video: 'The aftermath of St. Paddy’s Day in Kingston' The aftermath of St. Paddy’s Day in Kingston
WATCH ABOVE: Kingstonians love a good street party, but police had to clear Aberdeen Street when this year's St. Patrick's Day celebrations became too overcrowded for comfort – Mar 18, 2018

Kingston’s annual unofficial St. Patrick’s Day street party reached its peak level on Saturday with crowds of about 5,000 on Aberdeen Street.

Kingston Police, Frontenac Paramedics and the Kingston Fire and Rescue department were all monitoring the streets for safety.

“We’re disappointed, it was unruly, it was disrespectful, it was basically in some cases unlawful, it was irresponsible,” said Kingston Police staff sergeant Matt Funnell.

Despite having more officers on duty, Kingston Police say they were substantially outnumbered.  And the crowds were comparable to the ones on homecoming.

READ MORE: Police and party-goers come out for St. Patrick’s Day in London

Many revelers were alarmed after the roof of an old home at 237 University Ave. collapsed while there were about 40 people sitting on top of it.

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Police were surprised that there were no serious injuries in the incident. They say they had some trouble getting injured students to paramedics because the streets were too crowded.

“It’s overwhelming — there’s a lot of people; the streets are just blocked off for the safety of the students,” said Kingston Police sergeant Darren Keuhl.

But officials with Frontenac Paramedic Services says students were more cooperative than years past.

“The police helped us out with moving crowds when we needed to get in and out but there was no aggression towards our paramedics at all,” said Mark Podgers, operations superintendent.

READ MORE: Video shows roof collapsing during St. Paddy’s Day celebrations in Kingston

Kingston Police told CKWS that they had to call in afternoon shift officers early to help clear the crowd from Aberdeen Street as the day went on.

Many Kingstonians took to social media to address the crowding and police response.

“I am interested to know why a decision to clear the street was not made prior to this,” user @alleybillings wrote. “Why allow the crowds to congregate there in the first place? Several times I have heard that it is too dangerous to try to break up such large crowds, so what was different this time?”

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Others were more supportive of the police, such as user @MicheleinNZ: “That is a very large crowd to clear. There are only so many police officers. They can only do so much.”

By Saturday night, several were injured in the celebrations — some were hit in the head with beer bottles, while arrests were made for public intoxication and police handed out tickets to those in the street with open alcohol.

In all – officers handed out 118 tickets for liquor and traffic offences St. Patrick’s Day and 7 people were arrested for public intoxication.


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