St. Patrick's Day partying in Kingston stretches into weekend

St. Patrick's Day revelry in Kingston, Ont., spilled onto the streets over the weekend, as hundreds of people dressed in green crowded onto the roads — and also trees and rooftops — near Queen's University on Friday and Saturday.

Nuisance party declared, streets cleared by late afternoon

A man holds two fingers sideways in front of his face while being lifted above a crowd of partiers.
A man gestures toward the camera as he stands above the crowd of a street party in Kingston, Ont., on March 18, 2023, one day after St. Patrick's Day. (Dan Taekema/CBC)

St. Patrick's Day partying in Kingston, Ont., spilled onto the streets over the weekend, as hundreds of people dressed in green crowded onto the roads — and also trees and rooftops — near Queen's University Saturday afternoon.

The number of partygoers on Aberdeen Street Saturday swelled to roughly 3,000 at one point, according to Kingston Police, who said safety became a concern.

Officials declared the festivities a nuisance party shortly after 2:30 p.m. Announcements were made over loudspeakers that anyone still on the street should disperse or risk a $500 ticket.

A wall of police then steered students off the road while bylaw officers wrote up stragglers.

A police liaison officer in the foreground with a yellow security vest, surrounded by street partiers, some of whom have climbed trees.
A police liaison officer looks on as people party on the streets of Kingston on Saturday. Several people could be seen climbing onto roofs. (Dan Taekema/CBC)
A large crowd of partiers with one figure in the distance standing on the roof of a house.
A lone figure stands on a rooftop in the distance during the large outdoor party, which at its height numbered up to 3,000 people. (Dan Taekema/CBC)
Green smoke blankets an outdoor party.
Green smoke fills the area near Aberdeen and William streets Saturday afternoon. (Dan Taekema/CBC)
A large group of partiers, including some sitting in a tree, are seen outdoors during a sudden snowstorm.
A sudden burst of snow Saturday afternoon made little difference to the hundreds of partiers. (Dan Taekema/CBC)

It was the second straight day revellers had taken over Aberdeen Street, said Sydenham District Coun. Conny Glenn.

"The good news has been, we've seen a bit more respect [from] students in terms of dispersing when bylaw approaches," she said.

One likely reason for that response, Glenn said, is the fact police had handed out 129 liquor control tickets on Friday. 

"That's about three times as many as they were giving out last year," she said. "We think that that's kind of cut into, basically, the buildup of parties and the buildup of students being overly intoxicated."

A woman holding what looks like a box of cereal is hoisted above a crowd in a shopping  cart during a street party.
A reveller is hoisted above the crowd in a shopping cart during Saturday's street party. (Dan Taekema/CBC)
Three young women pose for a photo during an outdoor street party.
Three young women in Queen's University gear pose for a photo. (Dan Taekema/CBC)
A man yells into a megaphone in the midst of a large street party.
Kyle Compeau, manager of enforcement services for the City of Kingston, uses a megaphone to tell partiers to get down from a roof on Aberdeen Street or they'll be ticketed. (Dan Taekema/CBC)
A young man gestures while having a conversation with another man in a uniform during an outdoor street party.
A City of Kingston bylaw officer talks with a young man Saturday. A nuisance party was declared around 2:30 p.m. and the streets were soon cleared. (Dan Taekema/CBC)

Some partygoers were seen jumping off roofs into the arms of people below, while others tried to bodysurf the crowd.

One student fell out of a tree and broke their wrist, according to Glenn.

"We're still seeing some of the unsafe behaviours that we were hoping not to see," she said. 

Kingston Police said they plan to share a full tally of charges and tickets after the weekend.

Queen's took steps to prepare

Emergency services, Queen's University staff and city officials spent the weeks leading up to St. Patrick's Day knocking on doors to speak with students and sharing messages on social media encouraging safe partying.

Ahead of the weekend celebration, the university implemented many of the recommendations listed on its task force to address unsanctioned street parties, spokesperson Julie Brown said in an email. 

Her email said Queen's adopted a "no-guest policy" in residence and was giving away a safe partygoer kit with snacks, condoms and bandages.

It was also organizing off-campus outreach to talk to students and offering on-campus recovery for students who drink too much.

"We know most students behave responsibly and are mindful of others, but there are always some individuals who do not seem to get the message," said interim provost Teri Shearer in a media release a week ago. 

"Actions such as climbing on roofs, breaking glass, or disrespecting area residents are unacceptable," she said. 

People crowd onto a street during a cloudy day.
Partiers also crowded onto Aberdeen Street on Friday, which was actually St. Patrick's Day. (Dan Taekema/CBC)

Increased officer presence near Ottawa universities

There was also an increased presence of bylaw officers on Ottawa's streets over the weekend, the bylaw department said on Twitter.

Officers would be out in the Sandy Hill neighbourhood by the University of Ottawa and  in areas around Carleton University. 

Last year, Ottawa police said St. Patrick's Day costs were estimated to be around $350,000, which includes the "preparation and implementation phase" over several days.

The force said it also received additional help from the OPP last year, which cost around $150,000.

With files from Dan Taekema and Safiyah Marhnouj