Volunteers are first in, last out

‘Compared to last year at this time, it’s a lot nicer,’ volunteer says

For the third year in a row, the Red Hat volunteers were among the first to arrive and the last to leave Aberdeen Street yesterday. Coming early to set up and staying late to clear the street, the 140 to 200 Red Hat volunteers were a visible and visibly appreciated presence on Aberdeen Street last night.

“There’s a lot of love for the Red Hat volunteers,” said volunteer Jara Vallesteroa. “Everyone loves the free stuff.”

Vallestroa, ArtSci ’11, volunteered as a Red Hat for the first time last Homecoming, when she was a first-year. She said the mood on Aberdeen Street was more positive this year.

“I did it last year. I want to be part of the scene … but do something positive,” she said. “Compared to last year at this time, it’s a lot nicer.”

Red Hat volunteers spent their Homecoming Saturday night handing out plastic cups in exchange for glass bottles, giving out water bottles, educating people on liquor laws and generally trying to keep revellers safe.

Todd Ormiston, ConEd ’09 and president of the Concurrent Education Students’ Association, said being a Red Hat volunteer was about leading by example.

“For me it’s a role model thing. It’s hard to tell students what do to, so I take responsible action,” he said. “Last year I had a friend who got cut really badly on Aberdeen.”

In addition to a large contingent of student volunteers—including close to 70 first-years students—there were many community members and alumni on the street in Red Hats.

Kingston resident Gordon Brown has been a Red Hat volunteer since the program started two years ago. Brown said exchanging plastic cups for glass bottles was one of the volunteers’ most effective safety measures.

“You can’t throw an empty cup [that far],” he said. “We want to keep the kids safe and I haven’t seen a broken bottle.”

AMS Municipal Affairs Commissioner Paul Tye said he thought the night went well.

“Our volunteers worked hard, long past midnight. We had to send them home. They’ve been dedicated to making it as safe as possible,” he said

As far as the mood on the street, Tye said he thought it was positive overall, but some people were less interested in having a good time safely.

“In any situations like this you have people here to have fun, people to cause trouble and people to see what’s going on,” he said. “[The vibe] depends who you’re standing beside.”

—With files from Angela Hickman

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