Aberdeen revelers from near & far

The spreading notoriety of Aberdeen Street parties of years past likely contributed to the crowds that amassed there Saturday night, according to students and local transport officials interviewed by the Journal.

Dubbed a “phenomenal party” and “the street to go to” by some non-Queen’s students, this year’s gathering drew partiers from across Ontario and Eastern Canada, as well as local high school students.

Some Queen’s students told the Journal they hosted as many as 20 guests at their Ghetto houses. Many of these partiers are now facing disciplinary action.

Insp. Brian Cookman of the Kingston Police said officers are working on 18 criminal investigations related to last Saturday’s events on Aberdeen Street and 324 tickets were issued that night for possession of open liquor, public intoxication and underage drinking.

The first two individuals to appear in court on charges related to their alleged actions on Saturday night were Brent Von Hagen, 20, and Daniel Gomez-Duran, 21. Von Hagen is a Dalhousie University student and Gomez-Duran attends university in Ottawa.

Von Hagen and Gomez-Duran appeared in court on Monday. Von Hagen allegedly helped to set the car on fire and Gomez-Duran is suspected of striking the hindquarters of one of the horses used by Kingston Police on Aberdeen Street.

Cookman said more charges may still be brought forward.

“We are still receiving information from outside sources,” Cookman said, adding most of the information was in the form of video footage of Aberdeen Street on Saturday night.

“We’re making some inroads into the identification of those responsible [for] the arson to the car and the damage to the car,” he said.

Cookman said it will be challenging to determine who is responsible for stealing the car and how it came to be parked on Aberdeen Street that night, before being rolled, jumped on and set aflame.

“Any forensic evidence that was on the car is long gone,” he said.

Cookman said he is hoping to have a ballpark estimate today of how many of the people ticketed or arrested in connection with the Aberdeen party were from out of town.

“We did try to ascertain where the individual was from [when ticketing or arresting],” Cookman said.

Cookman said the police services are not set up to process 324 tickets at one time.

“It’s very time consuming,” Cookman said. “We don’t have the staffing.”

Cookman said police will be meeting soon with other partners to discuss the events on Aberdeen. He said representatives from the city and the University would be part of the discussions, and the AMS would likely also be involved.

“I would assume they’d be,” he said. “That would be Mr. [George] Hood’s call.”

A number of Kingston Collegiate and Vocational Institute (KCVI) students told the Journal they went to Aberdeen Street on Saturday night for a party.

One KCVI student, Zola Mehlomakulu, became a symbol for Saturday night’s events when a photograph of him standing on an overturned car appeared on the front page of Monday’s Kingston Whig-Standard and the Toronto Star. Mehlomakulu, who completed Grade 12 and is taking another year of high school courses, stated in Tuesday’s Whig-Standard that he was “really embarrassed” his behaviour reflected badly on Queen’s.

Grade 12 KCVI student Nathan Finn said he also attended.

“Man, there were a lot of people from [KCVI] there,” Finn said.

Matt Hunter-Brown, another Grade 12 student, said he had planned on going, but missed out because he had to work.

“Parties are sweet and we are still going to go to them—you can’t stop us,” he said.

Another Grade 12 student, Tyler Edmond, said “too many [KCVI students] to count” went to Aberdeen. “[It was] pretty crazy. I wouldn’t have wanted to be there.” Ben Langley, Edmond’s classmate, said he was on Aberdeen between midnight and 3 a.m. on Saturday night.

“It sure was a wild, fun party,” he said.

Some of his friends who had also been on Aberdeen Saturday night were unwilling to give their names for fear that they would face repercussions.

A Journal staff member who reported on the night estimated that at least one in three people she spoke to on Aberdeen said they did not attend the University.

Sam Kirschner, Sci ’08, said he had friends staying with him from the University of Western Ontario and McGill University with whom he later went to Aberdeen.

“I had 20 people staying at my house,” he said.

He said he felt that blame for damage done at Aberdeen should be placed with more discretion.

“It’s not really fair to judge the University,” he said. “Especially considering that half the people there weren’t even from here.”

Gemma Bonham-Carter, ArtSci ’07, said she hosted friends from Ottawa and Toronto at her house last weekend. They also went together to the party on Aberdeen, she said.

“Some were staying with me, others were staying with friends I know,” she said. “We went just to see what was going on [but found it] a lot more out of hand [than previous years] ... almost scary.”

Amanda Berloni, ArtSci ’07, said her friends from Western, Carleton University and the University of Toronto visited to experience Aberdeen.

“There were 22 [in our house], including us five girls who live here,” she said. “They had heard through the grapevine that Queen’s Homecoming was something to experience, something you had to do.” Dennis Frost, Coach Canada coach manager at the Kingston station, said more people than usual arrived on buses at the end of the day on Friday.

“We did see a trend where there [were] more people coming in from Toronto,” he said.

Frost said many people also arrived from Montreal on Friday, but Saturday saw a marked drop in ridership, which spiked again on Sunday.

“On the Sunday, it went nuts here with people trying to leave town,” he said. “It was swamped ... apparently the train had sold out, so people were trying to get out here.”

Frost added that by 6:30 p.m. Sunday, people had lined up around the corner to catch a bus.

“That’s just not normal,” he said.

Frost said he suspected these additional passengers were students and revelers.

“I would say so—well, they looked like students,” he said. “You want to know if they looked like partiers? Well, some looked tired.” Train ridership to Kingston also soared on Friday, according to Toronto Via Rail agent Dominic, who declined to give his last name.

“I know there were some pretty full trains, some pretty crowded ones on Friday,” he said.

The Via Rail office in Montreal wouldn’t comment on train numbers to Kingston last weekend.

Robert Church, a McGill student, said “a pretty good spread” of McGill students probably came to Kingston last weekend.

“[Homecoming has] certainly got a reputation as a pretty big party, and keg parties are not something we have very often here [in Montreal],” he said.

Church added Queen’s keg parties are “quite notorious” at McGill.

“[Aberdeen is] known as, like, the street to go to,” he said. “It’s been like that since I got here, and I’m in third year.”

Church said McGill students were taken aback by what happened on Aberdeen.

“Anyone I’ve talked to here is a bit surprised ... and also a bit curious as to what will happen to this party in future,” he said.

Aron Yeomanson, a University of Western Ontario student, said he also thinks some Western students would have gone to Aberdeen.

“[Homecoming is] supposed to be a phenomenal party,” he added, “The party on Aberdeen pretty much is [known as] Homecoming at Queen’s.” Western is currently gearing up for its own Homecoming this weekend. However, Yeomanson said despite what happened in Kingston, students are “not extremely concerned” about the potential for parties getting out of control at Western’s Homecoming.

—With files from Jennifer MacMillan and Christina Bossart

All final editorial decisions are made by the Editor(s)-in-Chief and/or the Managing Editor. Authors should not be contacted, targeted, or harassed under any circumstances. If you have any grievances with this article, please direct your comments to journal_editors@ams.queensu.ca.

When commenting, be considerate and respectful of writers and fellow commenters. Try to stay on topic. Spam and comments that are hateful or discriminatory will be deleted. Our full commenting policy can be read here.