Ontario’s street party

Out-of-town throngs keep Aberdeen Street legendary

Police made 54 arrests related to Homecoming this weekend.
Police made 54 arrests related to Homecoming this weekend.
Photo: 
At 11:22 p.m., partiers carried a sailboat from an Aberdeen backyard onto the street. About 20 people climbed on top of it, jumping up and down and singing, ‘Olé, olé olé olé.’
At 11:22 p.m., partiers carried a sailboat from an Aberdeen backyard onto the street. About 20 people climbed on top of it, jumping up and down and singing, ‘Olé, olé olé olé.’
Photo: 

If hundreds of lost partiers and chants of “Ott-a-wa U!” are any indication, this Homecoming weekend was attended by masses of people “coming home”—not to their alma mater, but to a street party that has gained notoriety across the province.

Dean of Student Affairs Jason Laker said he thinks out-of-town students cause a lot of the problems associated with the Aberdeen Street party and Homecoming weekend.

“The people who aren’t from Queen’s, and there’s a lot of them here, are essentially enjoying themselves on the backs of the Queen’s students, and I don’t know why the students even tolerate that,” he said. “I don’t understand much of the attraction here, especially because so many people who are not Queen’s students are essentially taking up the space here. Looking at the camaraderie of the Queen’s students, I can’t imagine that that’s something that they’re happy about.”

Laker said he’s concerned about the effect non-Queen’s partiers have on Homecoming’s street parties and Queen’s reputation.

“I think it continues to be very interesting that there are so many people from outside of Queen’s and I wonder if it’s really true that our students feel good about this,” Laker said. “More people from out of town. That’s something people have to think about.”

Laker added that the presence of non-Queen’s partiers has “a certain exploitation component.”

“People can be faceless, without relationships [to the school], and hijack your reputation.

Non-Queen’s students are having too much influence on Queen’s reputation.”

Laker said students should be aware of the role they play in encouraging people outside the University to come to Homecoming.

“I think it would be great ... if they gave some thought to the point that they could enjoy something that is theirs and I don’t think this,” he gestured to Aberdeen Street, teeming with drunken revellers, “is theirs.”

Brad Emerson, a fourth-year student at Guelph, has come to Queen’s Homecoming for the past three years.

“It’s amazing—look at this,” he said, gesturing at Aberdeen Street, bottle of beer in hand.

“I was here when they flipped the car [in 2005]. It’s fun to see fires and explosions, and the potential for danger is so fun when you’re not involved,” he said. “I go to Guelph and we don’t even know when Homecoming is happening.”

Louise Jones, a student at McGill, drove up to Queen’s with a couple of friends.

“Our friend drove us last night and we’re here for the weekend,” she said. “My best friend goes here and apparently it’s the best party of the year. “It’s a party! It’s a party! It’s a party!”

Hamilton resident Doug Carr came up with his friend Mike Timlin from Toronto. He said police presence has been positive because they haven’t tried to shut down the party.

“I think people have got to remember not to abuse it,” he said, adding that he thinks the party is a positive thing financially as well as for school spirit.

“What happens here translates to dedication to the University and hopefully that translates into donations.”

Ogie Mclure, 25-year-old Tamworth resident, said he comes to Queen’s Homecoming for the spectacle.

“It’s all the talk everywhere,” he said. “I come because, to me, I’m an outside observer—it’s just hilarious. It’s just a bunch of kids.”

Saint Lawrence College student Mike Buonaiuto said the street party’s illicit nature adds to its appeal.

“The reason why [people come] is it’s alcohol on the main streets,” he said.

Bonaiuto said he was glad some of 2005’s events didn’t repeat themselves.

“I came here for a good time,” he said. “Flipping cars is not a good time. Everybody comes together to have a good time, so when that shit happens, it’s not cool.”

He partied more excessively last year, Buonaiuto said.

“Last year, I was pretty fucking hammered,” he said. “This year, I’m not as hammered, but I’m getting there.”

Fourth-year Guelph University student Robby Kraszewski has been coming to Queen’s Homecoming for four years. He said he appreciates this year’s “chill” atmosphere.

“I didn’t see anything violent really happening,” he said. “I think if someone was like, ‘I’m going to punch you in the mouth,’ a lot of mouth-punching would ensue.”

Kraszewski said he comes because his girlfriend is a Queen’s alumna.

“It’s probably one of the best parties I’ve ever been to,” he said. “It’s a lot of people who are intelligent and drinking beer.”

“Not all intelligent,” interjected his friend Stephen Sullivan, ArtSci ’09.

Kraszewski said it’s easy to tell who’s a Queen’s student and who isn’t at the party.

“There’s a look. A lot of dudes wear a lot of half-zip sweaters and trendy shoes.”

This year’s Homecoming weekend didn’t turn out well for Kraszewski’s girlfriend Kristi Hanemann, ArtSci ’06. The tires of her car, which she parked on Victoria Street on Friday night, were slashed. She paid $750 to get them repaired so she could drive home, Sullivan said.

“She was really emotional about it,” said their friend Irene Meimaris, ArtSci ’08. “It sucks someone would go to such effort to put a dent in her day.”

Norm Vaughan, ArtSci ’82, said that after hearing about the events of Homecoming 2005, he was a little nervous about the night.

“This is my first [street party],” he said. “I was scared out of my mind to come here.” Vaughan heard about Homecoming 2005 through media reports after the event. He said out-of-town students have a negative impact on the party’s atmosphere.

“Unfortunately, I think they are the ones causing the problems,” he said.

Phillip Osanic, Law ’91 and a member of the Senate Non-Academic Discipline Committee and a professor in the School of Business and the Faculty of Law, said he’s worried some of the visiting students could stir up trouble.

“It’s Queen’s; it’s school spirit,” he said. “What we don’t want is people from outside thinking they can just be part of the party.”

—With files from Andrew Bucholtz, Gloria Er-Chua, Erin Flegg, Angela Hickman, Lisa Jemison, Rosel Kim and Katherine Laidlaw

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