‘Organized chaos’ reigns on Aberdeen

Annual student event celebrates drinking games, Ghetto life in an Olympic way

Participants in the appliance toss, the flagship event of Saturday’s Aberdeen Olympics, lay waste to the Ghetto street.
Participants in the appliance toss, the flagship event of Saturday’s Aberdeen Olympics, lay waste to the Ghetto street.
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The Aberdeen Olympic torch makes its way down the street during the opening ceremonies.
The Aberdeen Olympic torch makes its way down the street during the opening ceremonies.
Photo: 
Aberdeen Olympians show what really keeps them going.
Aberdeen Olympians show what really keeps them going.

Last week, a mysterious message appeared in the mailboxes of each house on Aberdeen Street and a select few houses on nearby Earl, William and Johnson streets. The message included the slogan “Living the Stereotype.”

“Of all the places, in all the Ghetto, we know that Aberdeen is the best place to live,” the pamphlet read. “One of the many reasons we all love it here is the age-old socially acceptable tradition of getting ridiculously drunk with your neighbours and generally making a fool out of yourself. Aberdeen Olympics is a chance to get to know one another, bond, play and annihilate your opponents in a fight to the death... if by death, you mean drunk.”

Recipient houses quietly began forming teams of housemates, devising ingenious names and costumes, and gathering spare couch change to cover the $15 Aberdeen Olympics entry fee.

With that, the teams were ready for a Saturday afternoon destined to cement Aberdeen Street’s reputation as one of the most action-packed spots in the Ghetto. Let the games begin.

Saturday, September 25 2:30 p.m.

Lower Aberdeen Street begins to fill up with colourfully dressed, beer-swilling “athletes.” As per the instructions of the tournament pamphlet, teams sport distinctive looks and team names ranging from clever to funny to downright vulgar. Represented are such notable contestants as “Barbie’s Dream Team,” “Bird House Brothel,” “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Poon,” and the elaborately dressed “Pirates of the Arrberdeen.” Event organizer and resident of 7 Aberdeen Sarah Fleming, ConEd ’05, surveys the 20 teams arriving to compete and smiles.

“We had a great turnout this year,” she says.

Fleming and her housemates, Terri Ellison and Ali Bahm, both ConEd ’05, and Erin Dunbar, Alex White and Katie McBride, all ArtSci ’05, have taken charge of the Olympics for the second year in a row.

“It has been a tradition in the Ghetto for the past 11 years,” Dunbar says.

2:45 p.m.

One Olympian, Evan Herbert, ArtSci ’05, takes in the scene. “This is the greatest single day of the year,” he says. “Look at this shit. Where else can you do this—have 100 people just boozing and throwing beer at each other on a city street?”

The approximately 125 people milling about in the street fall relatively silent as the opening ceremonies begin.

A shopping cart occupied by a girl holding a flaming wooden stick (the Olympic torch, as it were) appears at one end of the street. As the official Olympic theme blasts from two outdoor loudspeakers, someone pushes the girl, torch and cart through the crowd.

Onlookers celebrate the Games’ opening with a loud cheer and another beer.

3 p.m.

The events get off to a running start. The wacky nature of the events, the inebriation of the contestants and the general atmosphere of hilarity make for some high quality entertainment.

The shopping cart race kicks things off. The race becomes especially competitive as two participants get tangled up with each other and eventually slam into the curb, flipping both shopping carts and ejecting the surprised occupants several feet through the air and onto the grass.

Despite the laid-back attitude of the day, some participants make no secret of their competitive nature.

“We came here to win”, says Laura Angelone, ArtSci ’06.

She concedes, however, that her team’s training was not particularly intense.

“We mainly hung out for a couple hours, stretched our lungs [and] drank beers,” she says.

Others, like Herbert, are more relaxed about their goals.

“If you lose, you’re not going to cry,” he says. “But if you win, you go nuts.” 4 p.m.

By the time the beer mile begins, everyone involved in the Olympics seems thoroughly smashed.

The beer mile’s combination of chugging a beer, spinning around a broomstick and then running across the beer-slicked pavement makes for some spectacular wipeouts. Fortunately, no one seems to get seriously injured.

“I think it’s a terrific display of both athleticism and alcoholism,” says John O’Leary, ArtSci ’06 and a spectator at the games.

5 p.m.

The three-legged race begins, which is anything but typical due to the number of competitors unable to stand on two feet, much less three.

For the most part people are quite playful, vying to outdo each other’s shenanigans.

At one point, Tim Johnson, ArtSci ’07, and his visiting friend Naman Chopry demonstrate this spirit—Johnson bends over as Chopry ignites a jet of spray-paint between his legs. To the delight of onlookers, a burst of flame seemingly arcs from Johnson’s buttocks. The day continues in this vein.

6 p.m.

As the day goes on, it becomes apparent that the crowd is getting harder to control. Organizers of the event have increasing difficulty administering the games and maintaining order.

The Olympics pretty much dissolve into anarchy when the appliance toss begins. The more or less self-explanatory game involves literally tossing old and unwanted appliances—such as TVs, VCRs, stereos and computers—as far as humanly and drunkenly possible.

The organizers had intended for the appliance toss to take place off city property, but the event doesn’t proceed as planned.

One student spontaneously tosses a microwave onto the street and suddenly, as though some primal switch has been flipped, an orgy of light-hearted destruction descends upon Aberdeen.

Intoxicated students fling microwaves, toasters, lamps and even full-sized fridges onto the pavement. The sound of breaking glass mingles with hoots of laughter as practically everyone joins in the smashing.

Matt Mahoney, ArtSci ’06, nods approvingly at the mess.

“I have to say this is what I’ve been waiting to see,” he says with a smile.

Ellison characterizes the destruction as “organized chaos.” “This was not the plan,” she says.

6:30 p.m.

For the second year in a row, the police have to shut down the Aberdeen Olympics due to the unintended consequences of the appliance toss.

Constable Zane Brillinger of the Kingston Police says he doesn’t think anyone is going to be charged.

“We’re just getting everyone to clean up,” he says. “We understand that you guys have your event and your fun, we just want everyone to be safe.”

The garbage is cleaned off the street reasonably quickly as dozens of participants help in a spontaneous clean-up effort.

“It shows how much people co-operate on this street, that we’ve cleaned up,” says Jay Moore, ArtSci ’04. He says the clean-up effort demonstrates that students can act responsibly while having fun.

Evan Herbert’s team—“Team Smijie’s” from 36 Aberdeen Street—is named the day’s big winner.

White says the $200 not used to cover the day’s expenses will be donated to a charitable cause.

“This year we’re donating all the profits to the Child Life Wing of Kingston General Hospital,” White says.

Fleming says the residents of 7 Aberdeen Street are graduating this year. However, she says she is confident that someone will step up to organize next year’s events.

“I think someone will take it under his or her wing,” she says. “I’m not worried.”

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