Friday Foto

Queen's University Homecoming 2009, Aberdeen Street Party, Kingston, Ontario
Every city has a seedy, wart infested underbelly of ugly issues that are capable of dividing and disgusting the local population.  For Kingston, a short list includes the ongoing third crossing saga, Block D development, K-Rock Centre location/finances/naming rights/etc, dog parks, bike lanes and waterfront paths, and the grand daddy of them all, Aberdeen.  The mere mention of the infamous Aberdeen street party incites blind rage amongst year round residents and proud alumni.  To add insult to the injured reputations of both Queen’s and Kingston, in the past, tax payers have been stuck with the bill for police services.  I’ll forgo the remainder of the history lesson and fast forward to today, which is exactly one week away from the weekend that should have been Homecoming.  In an attempt to keep the burning car lit for one more year, a non-sanctioned “Fauxcoming” street party on Aberdeen is being organized via not one, but two Facebook groups.  At the time that this was published, one of the groups had 5,402 confirmed guests, and 2,352 maybes.  Not that the party was ever sanctioned by the university, but now that the administration is washing their hands of the fiasco, you won’t find Queen’s volunteers handing out plastic cups, or assisting with first aid and post-party cleanup.  Instead, the only people handing out party favors will be the Kingston City Police.  Pray for bad weather, and zero fatalities. Thanks to Tyler Ball for his photo of the scene on Aberdeen back in 2007.

Harvey Kirkpatrick

Harvey Kirkpatrick is Kingstonist's Co-Founder. His features curiously explore urban planning, what if scenarios, the local food scene and notable Kingstonians. Loves playing tourist and listening to rap music. Learn more about Harvey...

19 thoughts on “Friday Foto

  • The ONLY reason we have the Aberdeen situation is one year the cops decided to get belligerent and, since then, it’s gotten worse.

    The fundamental situation isn’t any different that what goes on in every college-town in America. It’s no different than the Friday the 13th motorcycle rallies in Port Dover, or the Quebec Carnaval, or New Orleans on any Saturday night prior to Katrina.

    The only difference here is the cops get involved in a big-way.

    The result: six-figure expenses for cop$, lousy press, and nobody’s happy.

    For half the price of cops you could vacuum the entire space between Barrie and Alfred, Princess and Union, dispatch gardners (plants included) to fix any allegedly trampled gardens, carpenters to fix whatever’s allegedly broken, pay for deluxe weekends out-of town for losers who don’t like it, put the remaining $150,000 savings in the bank, and EVERYBODY would be happy.

    Port-Dover manages to turn a volatile situation into a marvelous regular stream of cash. Kingston manages to make a similar situation into a national embarrassment.

    Kingston, face-it: you’re stodgy, and you can’t party. It’s your loss; pay $300,000 per year for policing the event, and live perpetually in your own smugness.

  • @RJoyce Seriously? As someone who has been to the Aberdeen Street Party I am not sure if your recollection is even remotely accurate. I have witnessed both empty and full beer bottles being hurled into the crowd, seen the resulting casualties in the first aid tent, and felt the crunch of broken glass under my feet. I didn’t stick around for the burning car, or the welcome the responding fire fighters received (beer bottles pelting their vehicle). None of that is manufactured bad press, rather it is the intolerable reality that is Aberdeen. It’s not safe, and at the risk of sounding stodgy, it’s not what Queen’s is about.

    Aberdeen is not an island. Sure the neighbourhood residents are primarily students, but remember that people outside of the Queen’s bubble are impacted by the party. Why should we pay for police to clean up the mess, or for people to plant flowers. That is a joke right? Perhaps if we could find a way to get the students who live on Aberdeen to pay for the party, there wouldn’t be as much of an outcry. Or better yet, tack the police bill onto student fees. I bet that would put an end to it the shenanigans.

    I’ve attended the St. Jean Baptiste celebration in Quebec, and it is at the opposite end of the spectrum in comparison to Aberdeen. From my experience, revellers were respectful of one another, and to public/private property. If the same could be said about Aberdeen, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

  • It’s all-cool until the cops come.

    In Port-Dover, bring-in belligerent cops, and you’ll see plenty of projectiles there too. Currently in Port Dover an absolute minimum number of cops ambulate in pairs, hi howareya, not citing anybody for anything.

    Same story in Quebec City, my friend.

    Cops-with-attitude are a pre-requisite to the whole Aberdeen situation. The only tactic remaining is escalation. How’s that working-out so-far?

  • Regardless of what Queen’s, the police, or Kingston’s elected and electorate do, this party is going to happen. It has happened for what, 5 years now at least?

    We can go round and round, but I have been to a few of them, and the police presence isn’t slowing it down. If anything, it encourages anonymous idiots.

    So there is an expensive proposition in policing this street party. My idea is fairly simple.

    The people are coming, so why not give them something to do, and generate a way to pay for it? Get a few bands that can draw the university crowd, legitimately, have the tickets cheap and the beer expensive. Make it a late, good show, and you can both make money and contain the hooligans, away from citizens.

    Or you could feel righteous and pay more taxes, and get no benefit.

  • I think the approach this year will be an eye opener for anyone attending the event.

    Let’s not forget the actions that take place at the Aberdeen street party are ILLEGAL! From what I understand, the police are going to treat the citizens at the party as they would any other citizen in any other situation, if something illegal is happening . . . there will be repercussions.

    The city/police/university have tried to support this party and make it safe but it has just backfired so it’s time to try something else. I don’t know if this is the right solution either, but at least it’s trying something new when the old hasn’t worked.

  • @RJoyce Interesting how you’ve suggesting that KPS caused beer bottles to fly into the crowd at Aberdeen. I would argue that the problem stems from the people throwing the beer bottles. Curb this sort of unruly behaviour, and like Quebec City and Port Dover, I imagine the City would detail fewer “keepers of the peace” to attend. However, until Aberdeen attendees can prove that they are mature enough to respect one another, and the rest of us, people will continue to get hurt, and charges will be filed.

    @Will Slade I agree with your suggestion of a sanctioned party, but the problem is that Queen’s already tried this and failed. The university missed a huge opportunity in that regard, because they hired a band no one had ever heard of. If they made this option more attractive (free concert, cheap drinks, contained party) fewer people would go to Aberdeen, and fewer Kingstonian’s would have a problem with it.

  • @RJoyce You HAVE to be joking. I’ve been to Aberdeen, I was there the very first time it happened and the students practically begged for the police to get involved with their behaviour. How can you possibly blame the police for trying to keep people from getting hurt and from rioting? (That’s what it is – a riot.) It is illegal to drink in public and to be so negligent that it causes serious injury to other people. Being on Aberdeen does not change that. I don’t know why people can’t understand that.

    I’ve been to Port Dover on the 13th too and I don’t think the two can even be compared. The bikers that come are with their families – their children, and the party clearly has an entirely different feel.

    I agree with Will. Queen’s needs to step up and throw their own party. I was at a party at UofT during Frosh week about 7 years ago and they threw a big kegger on campus. They set up bars all around in the various buildings (all confined within a square…maybe it could work behind Theo and Kingston Hall at Queen’s). The only security that had to be there was a couple of hired cops and campus security. Why can’t Queen’s loosen up and do something like this? Their attempt at the JDUC a few years ago was pathetic. There was no booze and as Harvey said, the band was unknown.

    And if anyone is smug, it’s the students and they’re complete disregard for the law, not to mention the disrespect they show for a city in which they are guests. It’s appalling and I’m not cleaning it up.

  • @Danielle Lennon Agree on all counts, except for your last sentence. It’s too easy for us to throw our arms up in the air, give up on this problem, and let Queen’s/the City try to solve it. Thus far that strategy has taken us down the same dark road, and in the end, whether we like it or not, we do end up cleaning up the mess. Or at least our tax dollars do. I think that concerned citizens need to be involved in finding a solution, and that goes beyond being represented by our elected officials, or complaining via some whiny online action group. The City has umpteen studies and working groups for everything else we plan to do…why not Aberdeen?

  • As long as you have belligerant intolerant cops, as long as the fuzz brings attitude and heat, then you are going to have the Aberdeen problem. Some think this is special. It isn’t. What goes-on here is no different than goes-on in virtually all college towns in America, and all the homecomings of the 70’s and 80’s as well.

    @Danielle, I am NOT kidding. Kingston has been down the road with current crowd-control and party-control tactics. Don’t be confused about Port Dover. In Port Dover the cops have been super-cool for a long, long time, well-over a decade. As a result the situation is cool, to the point that now some folks (a very small minority) bring families, as you claim.

    Port Dover certainly did NOT start as a family-compatible event. It never got out-of-control, never got to conflict, so now it’s a predictably cool gathering. Face it: Kingston blew-it with its current tactics. As of what’s “illegal”, and vigorous enforcement, again I ask: how’s that working-out?

  • @RJoyce, have you actually been to the Friday the 13th at Port Dover? I used to live in the area and from my experience the event is one of the most heavily policed events in Ontario. In fact the small town brings in police from all over Ontario just to keep the peace for the event. The presence of all those cops is the most likely reason that crime and disturbances do not ruin the town. Is may also explain why it has turned into an event that middleage men on motorbikes feel comfortable bringing their wives and babies to.

  • RJoyce…You project that you have all the experience in the world when it comes to outdoor parties.
    I grew up in Kingston in the 60s, when there were beligerent motorcycle clubs (Satan’s cjhoice, Black Diamond Riders, The Hells).
    I’ve been to some of these biker parties (which were highly illegal, more so back then / todays we tolerate much more.
    I can only comment that these ‘sloven’ bikers (some with Queen’s degrees) had MUCH more class than the immature, unrespectful idiots that pass themselves off as members of a community acting out their fantasies (with the support of many ‘buddies’) during the ‘Aberdeen’ Party.

    If it was left to me; I’d hook up my liquid manure spreader with the jet and give them a little shot of pig fixin’s.

    Just a suggestion…if the city was to block off Aberdeen Street with concrete barriers; why not leave it blocked off (after the ‘party’) and let those that live there clean it up or live in their squallor until they do…forget the street sweeper and snow plowing.

    Grow up

    Respectfully :)

  • I know this. I’m taking photos this year and I’m turning them over to the police if I have one more year of property damage. You pay almost five hundred a month property taxes and then see if you want to put up with this RJoyce. I agree with offloading the costs on to student fees and then let’s see how many get invited here from out of town for a “party” that has zero to do with homecoming at all.

    Because of the way things have gone the last five years, I don’t particularly care if Queen’s ever has another homecoming or not. And if the partying gets out of hand some people need to go to jail. The residents of this city are sick and tired and fed up with this. Apparently bending over backwards to work something out ended up with having the police blamed when in fact things were out of hand to the point the police needed to be stepped up to that point.

    I’ve had siding ripped off my home, beer bottles everywhere and kids with alcohol poisoning passed out in my drive way. Not to mention the being very ill and having our emergency dept over flowing with kids. This area is too small for this many drunken fools to show up here for one day. This isn’t Daytona Beach. Go somewhere else and stay out of Kingston. The by laws are going to be enforced this year so if you live in my street don’t even think about walking around outside with booze or stepping onto my property to do damage because I’m pressing charges this year.

  • Why can’t we all just admit that there is no one group to blame for this situation? We all dropped the ball in this case; city, police, students, faculty, and the parents…Maybe instead of everyone pointing their fingers at everyone else, we should just find a solution. I have witnessed past Aberdeen parties and took some time to peruse this most recent one as well. While admittedly it was still a little bit out of hand it was far less tame and more contained than in past years…Let us all hope that this trend continues in this direction and be glad that there were no serious injuries this year…

  • I don’t know, I was there the Year of the Car, and the cops began the evening by pushing and shoving, way before the real drunkards arrived. They were determined to show their authority. I responded to that by getting pissed off, but I wasn’t drunk – I fail to see how somebody with lowered inhibitions would have handled it better. (I left pre-car-tip, mind you.) The next year, when they brought in the professionals from TO who had actual TRAINING in handling crowds, there were far fewer problems. Where I’m from – Victoria – they had annual concerts for awhile with 20-30,000 people in a five-block radius, and barring a few drunk and disorderlies, there was absolutely no trouble (although the weed smoke floating atop the crowd might have helped with pacification efforts.) No, I place the blame squarely on the “irresponsible students/stupid townies” vibe that the city and students have each respectively cultivated.

  • Apparently we learned that the bill for policing this year is over $300,000.

    You can buy a lot of professional street-cleaning, gardening, carpentry, and ample complimentary suites at the Ambassador Resort for half that.

    For half of that $300,000 you can organize just about any other alternate event you can imagine, not that boozing with friends is substitutable, so keep that in mind.

    Give the cops carte-blanche and, guess what, you get expensive cop-centric solutions. How’s that working-out?

    I think most folks who have commented on this thread have never actually been to successful and massive street celebrations. You should travel a little, or a lot, and see how the protective mother complex does, in fact, really suck.

    Ontario’s been like this for centuries. Give it up. It’s uni-dimensional, very boring and, in the case of Kingston, it’s expensive and embarrassing.

    Our new police chief should have been recruited directly from Port Dover. Half of $300,000 would have easily done-it.

  • RJoyce
    Re your last paragraph.
    If it wasn’t for boneheads like those that ‘attend’ Aberdeen there would not be the expense.
    Perhaps Queen’s should look at ‘recruiting’ students who really go to school to learn.
    Perhaps the Aberdeen event should be in rural Kingston; then you would need very little police presence, as us country folk (who put food on your table in your hands) handle things.

  • RJoyce, I think you’re missing the whole point. This isn’t all about money. It’s about respect and safety. This party is not, and never was, sanctioned by the city. The students (or townies or whoever we’re blaming today) are taking it upon themselves to throw an illegal, unwanted “party” on a residential street. Yes, maybe Kingston or Ontario as a whole (nice generalization there) needs to “loosen up” but until these people respect the city, how could Kingston possibly want to throw a party like this? Plus, this has nothing to do with partying, these people want to get incredibly drunk and destroy things as well as put others and themselves in serious danger. You really think the cops and the city should just sit there and let it happen? Money is important, but it comes down to a lot more than that.

  • I think RJ forgot that queen’s students stole a car and then flipped the next night. Queens students (i am an former one) need to get over themselves.

  • @Danielle: There’s no such thing as an “illegal” party. And respect is a pretty tenuous thing. I’ll bet that students would respect the city and property owners more if each didn’t milk them as cash cows the other eleven months of the year.

    @Bill: Actually, the car was just there – it had been stolen, but most Queen’s students don’t have the skills to steal a car (they never established who stole it.) Queen’s students only do tipping and arson – it takes a pro to steal a vehicle.

    @pw: (Wait, isn’t farming is heavily subsidized by our tax dollars?) You’re right, there’s a reason they hold raves in out-of-the-way places, aside from the drug-use stuff – nobody cares if a plowed-over field gets assaulted. But what R.Joyce says is correct: lots of other places handle this sort of thing, in their cities, just fine. Moving it would be one way, but obviously that isn’t going to help here.

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