Rowdy teen party in Elbow Park clashes with outdoor family movie night

Police were called five times on Saturday night to deal with a gathering of about 150 teens in the same area as a community outdoor family movie night in Elbow Park.

'I've seen the aftermath of their parties — condoms, bottles broken in the park. I mean, my kids play there'

The greenspace and wooded embankment in Elbow Park at Eighth Street and 34th Avenue has long been a popular spot for teens to congregate. (Google)

Residents in Elbow Park are trying to put a stop to outdoor teen drinking parties after reports that an out-of-hand teen party marred a family-oriented gathering 

Last weekend at a community outdoor family movie night, families who had gathered to watch the animated movie Coco in a park adjacent to Christchurch at Eighth Street and 34th Avenue southwest, were forced to contend with a group of more than 100 rowdy teens.

"There was just a huge mob of kids drinking and partying in the park, right within feet of my five, seven- and nine-year-old," said Chris Reid, who lives nearby.

People attending the movie said as the party got rowdier, one teen used pepper spray and fights broke out.

Calgary police said they received five calls at around 9 p.m. reporting that a group of allegedly impaired youth were disrupting the community's outdoor movie event as it was wrapping up.

Police then contacted the youths' parents, who came to pick them up.

Jane Virtue, with the Elbow Park Residents Association, said teen gatherings in the park, which butts up against a wooded embankment, have been going on for decades. But, she said, they've evolved from small groups of neighbourhood kids, to something much different.

"It's a cyclical thing that happens in all neighbourhoods in Calgary, we're not unique in Elbow Park," she said. "But because of social media, the number of people in the gatherings has escalated."

With more people comes more concerning behaviours within the group, Virtue said.

"There's more exposure to drugs than there has been in the past. More exposure to risky behaviour," she said.

Reid said he has called police at least 20 separate times about parties in the park.

"The frequency is growing and the size of the group is growing," Reid said.

"I'm seeing vandalism, theft, car prowlings, broken glass in the park. I've witnesses people throwing bottles on the streets. I've seen the aftermath of their parties — condoms, bottles broken in the park. I mean, my kids play there."

Reid is leading a task force within the community that will work with police, schools, parents, teens and others, to find ways to put an end to the parties and engage the teens in a more positive way. 

With files from Jennifer Lee