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No Fires for Palmer Fest 2013

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Partygoers experienced ideal weather for Palmer Fest, which was held on Saturday. An annual fest that draws large crowds, the attraction brings out qualities the city normally works to distance itself from for its own public image.

Not everyone in attendance was there for drinking: Ohio University’s Beta Theta Pi ran a hot dog stand. The proceeds from the stand were for Friends of the Shelter, an organization that helps treat dogs at local shelters.

“We hope to be pretty busy,” one fraternity member said. “We just got set up, but we expect some of these people will get hungry eventually, and we thought we would take advantage of that.”

The fest drew in hundreds of students and visitors to Athens. A crowd that large is a daunting challenge to control, but the city worked to accommodate the multi-house party as well as they could. The street traffic was still permitted and the festivities were restricted to lawns, porches and backyards. Several signs, including a large electronic billboard, advised students to watch where they were partying, and prohibited open containers and glass bottles.

Fest attendees were treated to music played from porches. They could also visit the Dave Rave stand behind 27 B Palmer.

“We are really excited to go see this here,” Katherine Smith, senior at OU said. “We just hope there won’t be a house fire this year and everything will be kept under control. Also, I hope that the tourists can respect the OU lifestyle: partying responsibly.”

Sophomore Terry Tsivitse agreed.

“Everyone has been really well behaved so far. But once a lot of alcohol gets consumed, shit’s going to go downhill really fast,” Tsivitse said.

The city was prepared to react to safety hazards and any kind of uprising that might occur. Policemen were patrolling up and down the fest and watching partygoers. Several parties were advised to keep the noise down or told to restrict the party to certain boundaries. One landlord could be seen going to various properties and picking up the litter lying in the yards.

Each end of the street had large lamps to enhance street lighting that was already there. These lamps were brought in by the city on request from the police.

“The police asked for them, [the code enforcement office] contacted the landlords in the area to see if they were all right to put up, and city engineers and public works placed them. It was a joint effort,” said John Paszke, of Athens City Code enforcement.

Employees from the code enforcement office were making rounds throughout the afternoon. Paszke said they were looking for infractions at the student parties.

“We are just going around and making sure that the people are keeping their litter under control, being sure to keep people off the roofs, and making sure they are just keeping control of the people in attendance,” Paszke said.

Paszke also mentioned that if the violators did not mend their infractions, the infractions might trigger the nuisance code.

An assorted team of law enforcement officials, comprised of the Athens Police Department, the Ohio University Police Department, the Athens County Sheriff’s Office, the Ohio Investigative Unit, the Ohio State Highway Patrol and others began patrolling in larger groups. Officers on horseback began dealing with the more rowdy crowds, shutting down parties not complying with the ordinance. The entire fest was shut down by about 7:00 p.m.

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