While it wasn’t the warm and balmy St. Patrick’s Day of 2022, with a cool mix of rainy weather keeping things a little more tame, lots of people were out celebrating the Irish holiday in London, Ont., this year.
Aided by the holiday landing on a Friday, scores of Western University students descended onto Broughdale Avenue in the afternoon while southwards, other students and residents made their way to Richmond Row throughout the day to hit up many of the local bars sporting green beer and lots of Guinness ale.
Speaking with Global News a little before 4 p.m., London police Const. Sandasha Bough said things have been relatively calm for officers patrolling the city.
“We haven’t had any significant incidents take place so far,” said Bough. “We can say there have been a number of smaller gatherings in and around the downtown core.”
On Richmond and neighbouring streets, plenty of police vehicles were seen patrolling the area.
Last year, police responded to a total of 33 complaints concerning noise, parties or gatherings and 145 charges were issued in relation to Liquor Licence Control Act offences.
Northward on Broughdale Avenue, dozens of police were on foot, ensuring students and others were staying on the sidewalks and not breaking any by-laws.
The peak of students and police on Broughdale appeared to be around 2 p.m., according to multiple students.
“We can say that there were a number of individuals on Broughdale, however, they have since dissipated,” said Bough, with the notable police presence clearing out shortly after 3 p.m.
“As always our priority is public safety.”
On Broughdale Avenue, third-year Western student Owen Mackle said while he had found the interactions between police and students to be respectful, he was unsure if the amount of police patrolling was necessary.
“If you look around to other college and university towns around Ontario, especially southwestern Ontario, there’s not that much of a presence there for celebrating,” said Mackle while on Broughdale Avenue.
“I get that Western has kind of had a bad look with homecoming over the past few years, but I really don’t find the spending is warranted.”
Mackle says celebrating St. Patrick’s Day is special to him since he has lots of Irish heritage and his dad was born in Northern Ireland.
“I just feel like it’s my duty to come out and celebrate,” said Mackle.
Mike Oxmoal, a fourth-year Western University student, said things were very busy around 2 p.m., describing it as near FOCO, or ‘faux homecoming,’ levels of students outside his house on Broughdale Avenue. However, the crowd did not extend as far down the street as it does during FOCO, he said.
Oxmoal said the fact this year’s St. Patrick’s Day landed on a Friday was “huge” for allowing students to enjoy it with busy school and work schedules.
“I think St. Patrick’s Day is just one of the days where it’s a great time for people to spend time with your friends,” said Oxmoal.
While last year was the first year with restrictions lifted after the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak, Oxmoal says even this year, it is still refreshing to be able to celebrate, especially for the younger students.
“Being in a house (of seven guys), we’re really able to go and get a good glance into how you go and celebrate St. Patrick’s Day,” said Oxmoal.
“Although last year was really sunny, even with the rain this year we are still able to have the same experience.”
On Richmond Row outside of Chuck’s, Adrian Facciponte, a third-year Western student, said he would not let the overcast weather dampen spirits for the day.
“I just got a bunch of midterms and assignments done, so it’s nice to come out and celebrate,” said Facciponte.
“Since I was hitting the books so hard, I thought it would be nice to come out and enjoy the day.”
Providing a second update to Global News at around 5:30 p.m., Bough reiterated that police have not had to deal with any major issues up to that point in the day.
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