Police close Ezra Avenue as St. Patrick's Day party grows

The unsanctioned St. Patrick's Day party on Ezra Avenue in Waterloo started early and grew fast with numbers exceeding the 15,000 that attended last year.

Police estimate number of people at unsanctioned party in Waterloo has exceeded 2017

Waterloo Regional Police estimate the number of people who attended an unsanctioned St. Patrick's Day party on Ezra Avenue in 2018 was larger than last year. (Joe Pavia/CBC)

The St. Patrick's Day party on Ezra Avenue in Waterloo started early and kept growing to the point that the city blocked the street off with two big dump trucks by 12 p.m. to prevent vehicle traffic from taking a drive down the street.

Inspector Michael Haffner with Waterloo Regional Police said they have noticed an increase in the number of people at the event from last year when the number crested to 15,000. 

They plan to update the actual numbers of people by the end of the weekend along with charges that have been laid. But as of a 2 p.m. update Saturday, police said they laid a number liquor licence charges and broke up two keg parties.

"We've attended approximately 30 gatherings in the area of Ezra Avenue, Albert Street and Marshall Street," said Haffner. "Those gatherings with people from excess of 30 people to 300 people at each residence."

Inspector Haffner indicated many students were consuming alcohol on their property and were not walking with open alcohol on the street.

Waterloo Regional Police prepared for the extra number of students and hired a reported 40 officers from Peel Regional Police for extra security (Joe Pavia/CBC)

WRPS prepared for huge crowds

Waterloo Regional Police prepared for the extra number of students and hired a reported 40 officers from Peel Regional Police for extra security.

Students CBC K-W spoke to said this year is a little different with the extra police presence.

"I think people are going to be less rowdy. I think people are going to be a little more responsible with that many more cops," said one male student on Ezra Avenue.

EMS calls on par with 2017

Paramedics with Waterloo region have been busy responding to calls.

Rob Crossan, deputy chief of Waterloo Region Paramedic Services, said calls to EMS are on par from last year. He adds that between 1 and 2 p.m. there was one call every five or six minutes.

"Every single one of them is alcohol involved. There [have] been some falls," said Crossan. "Nobody we've transported to hospital has been serious or critical. And most [are] just far too intoxicated to leave on their own."