Kingston, Ont. – Kingston called on OPP’s riot squad on Saturday to help clean up an illegal varsity homecoming party, in which 8,000 people, and a crowd-pleasing surfing sofa, swarmed in a one-story section of the University District.
What began as a crowd of a few hundred people on the lawns and porches of Aberdeen Street quickly grew into thousands after a Kingston police officer was hit by a flying object and taken to hospital.
Queen’s University has been pleading with students for weeks to avoid mass gatherings. After attending a varsity football game against the Carleton Ravens on Saturday afternoon, the varsity decided to stage a primarily virtual homecoming.
For a week, the word of illegal street party was spreading. Police and university officials are keeping an eye on social media accounts for preparation.
Kingston Police stationed a drone on Aberdeen Street for a bird’s eye view of the gathering, which showed a group of students descending on the area between 1 and 1:30 p.m.
The school issued a statement on social media on Saturday “condemning reports of some people throwing projectiles at police, injuring an officer. These actions will be actively pursued under our student code of conduct.”
The statement also referred to the school’s condemnation of “misguided signs” – large, white, home-made banners hung outside some students’ homes such as “Lockdown Your Daughters King$Ton” and “Westerners Want That” They were Pfizer they can get into that.”
On September 10, after a crowd of rejected student parties, the City of Kingston issued a new emergency order increasing the fine for attending an “increased nuisance party” from $500 to $2,000. This fine can be issued to any person attending a gathering of 25 people inside the provincial limit and outside the provincial limit of 100 people.
Party organizers could also face a $10,000 fine and court summons for the Ontario Reopening Act.
Via loudspeakers, police advised those having fun on Aberdeen Street that the site had been declared a furious nuisance party.
Hundreds of students were glued to the roofs, hanging from second-floor windows and trees. Some, in the middle of the pack in the street, set off fireworks. As the students took turns riding, the crowd hoisted a full-size sofa from one side of the street to the other. The sofa was later replaced with a metal shopping cart. Most of the students appeared peaceful and joyful as the villagers recited the “YMCA” collective
Around 4:40 a.m., police in the Kingston, Durham area and OPP called a “soft approach” to the crowd. The ranks of officers marched slowly a few feet toward the crowd, squeezing the merry-goers out of the area.
By 5:10 pm the street was almost empty.
Kingston police told the Star they could not say how many students were arrested or fined in connection with Saturday’s incidents.
The star saw that about half a dozen young men and women were taken away in handcuffs.
Kingston Police Inspector Dan Mastin has been working at homecoming parties for 33 years. He didn’t think this year’s Denied event was particularly noteworthy.
“It’s the same every year,” he said. “It is … familiar.”