Numbers go up but street party atmosphere continues to mellow

Majority of volunteers, police, say event was safe and happy

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Neither cool weather nor self-defence sprays could dampen the spirits of the 6,000 to 7,000 partiers on Aberdeen Street last night.

Kingston Frontenac Emergency Services reported more than 30 incidents in relation to the street party. St. John Ambulance treated 22 to 24 cases, 11 of which were a result of an assault involving what paramedics suspect was pepper spray, said St. John Ambulance first aid attendant Steve Giberson.

“No one knows for sure. It’s an assumption that it was pepper spray. … [It] hasn’t been confirmed,” he said.

Rob Brezinna, Sci ’10, was the first person treated for injuries resulting from the spray.

“I was kneeling down to put someone on my shoulders and a girl with a mini squirt came by and turned around and sprayed me in the eyes for absolutely no reason,” he said. “This was probably the most painful experience of my life.”

Latieshia Falez ArtSci ’12 was another victim of the alleged pepper spray.

“It was the wrong place at the wrong time. … I seriously thought I couldn’t see. I don’t care about the burns on my skin. I’m just glad that I’m able to see,” she said.

Paramedics and St. John First Aid were stationed at the corner of Johnson and Aberdeen streets.

Manager of Operations for Frontenac Paramedic Services Dave Gemmill said there were 14 ambulance staff and four supervisors present on site. Additionally, there were five representatives from Toronto Emergency Services.

A member of Queen’s First Aid told the Journal they were prohibited from disclosing any information to the media. QFA Director Kelly Simo was unavailable for comment.

After breaking their fast for the evening, a group of Queen’s University Muslim Students Association (QUMSA) members put on their red hats to volunteer on Aberdeen Street. Ramadan—a month during which Muslims are encouraged to perform good deeds as well as to fast—is in September this year.

Imthiyaz Hameed, B.Ed ’09, said he and his friends wanted to help make Aberdeen a safer experience.

“It’s the month of Ramadan for us so we’re kind of fasting and we thought it would be good for the community,” he said. “We have it done in such a way that everyone’s able to enjoy themselves in a safe manner and have a safe Homecoming.”

Ray Klonsky, a former McGill film student, had his video camera on hand as he stood on the corner of Aberdeen and William streets as the party began on Saturday night.

Klonsky, who manages a Montreal-based party promotion company called Saint Woods, produces short videos of parties, which he hopes to market as reality TV. The videos are displayed on the company’s website, saintwoods.com.

Along with about 40 students from Montreal, Klonsky rented a bus to come to Aberdeen this year. He came last year as well.

“Last year we came … but on Friday,” he said. “We just filmed a lot of fights and went home.”

Klonsky said his company doesn’t take responsibility for students who sign up for the trip.

“They all go on their own way and then we pick them up tomorrow morning,” he said, adding that he’s “basically capitalizing on the fact that people want to party here.”

On University Avenue, a group of five engineering alumni stood outside their old house hoping to get a peek inside.

Rob Miller, Sci ’83, said he was surprised they couldn’t get in, because students used to leave their doors unlocked when he lived in the Ghetto. “We wanted to see our old place but we couldn’t get in. We never locked the doors,” he said, adding he and his housemates often snuck into their neighbours’ house to help themselves to food and wine.

“As bad as we were, we never made a mess like that shit,” he said, pointing to plastic cups and water bottles on the lawn.

Miller said they had been to a student house party earlier that evening.

“Now that we’re alumni, they let us in [to house parties] and they will give beer to us if we beg,” he said.

Jan Kaminski, Sci ’83, said he went to Clark Hall Pub—where he was manager in 1982-83—on Friday for the alumni patio party.

He said Homecoming weekend parties used to take place on University Avenue, which was often covered in broken glass by the end of the night.

“It was a good party in the 80s,” he said. “There’s way more people now but back then there was a lot more beer and broken beer bottles.”

—With files from Madison Bettle, Emily Davies, Gloria Er-Chua, Kerri MacDonald and Charlotte Yun.

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