New Year, Same Block Party Rules

BLOOMSBURG — A year ago, Bloomsburg Town Council passed an ordinance right before Block Party to for large outdoor gatherings. This restricted the student-run drinking parties and regulated the limited areas where students could have the booze bash that takes place every April.

It also brought out dozens of students to Council’s chambers in protest, and prompted a public lecture from a university vice president, who called for new ideas.

This year, February and March passed by without a mention of Block Party at Town Council’s regular meetings. That means no new rules are in effect, but revelers will still be held to follow the ones set out by last year’

The 2015 ordinance mandated that each host of an outdoor party with 150 people or more drinking alcohol was permitted to acquire a signed permission from each resident’s landlord, licensed security staffs on site, rented portable toilets, Dumpsters, and a mandatory clean-up after the party. The permit application must be requested 30 days before the event so police could properly staff for safety reasons.

‘Damn it, let’s get together’
Former BU Assistant Vice President for External Relations Jim Hollister made a chilling speech to students assembled at a Town Council meeting, expressing his concern for safety during Block Party and also suggested his willingness to work with students on a solution.

“We care about you,” Hollister told students. “So, damn it, let’s get together and come up with a solution.”

Since then, no new laws have been passed, but alternatives have been suggested.

Hold on campus?
Councilman Fred Trump, suggested holding Block Party at an upper campus venue. He made a clear connection to the liquor license needed for football tailgating on upper campus and hoped for an exception to be made for Block Party.

Hollister opposed, stating, “You can’t just simply throw it up there on a bunch of athletic fields and say it’s gonna be a big party,” Hollister pointed out. “It’s simply not legal.”

Council’s Bower preferred that the largest bashes be held on upper campus, fair grounds, or somewhere outside of town.

As you may recall, in years past, Block Party caused controversy after bottles were thrown at a police BearCat on Fetterman Avenue.

Several calls were made to the police department about noise complaints and many intoxicated students wandering the streets. The police brought in an armored BearCat military vehicle and tear-gassed partiers after they started throwing beer bottles at the BearCat. Cops in the past have felt outnumbered as social media has increased crowds from hundreds to thousands of people.

Police offer advice
With no new ordinances made for this year’s Block Party and only suggested alternatives, police suggest that hosts of parties only invite people that they know. If the party gets out of hand, call the police. You will not get in trouble. Police consider calling for help the responsible thing to do and is respected by enforcement. Also, tell neighbors ahead of time out of respect for the people around you.

This article originally appeared on BlockPartyInsider.wordpress.com, a project for Mass Communications’ Spring 2016 Journalism Workshop. You can view all of the workshop’s work there.

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