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Attendees of Palmer Fest watch the party happen from a deck April 9th, 2016. 

Partygoers wear multiple layers and onesies to combat snow and cold weather during Palmer Fest

Police began shutting parties down by 3 p.m. and most were completely shut down by 5:30 p.m.

As snow fell and students drank at Palmer Fest on Saturday, one student formed a backup plan in case he ran into trouble with the police.

“(The doughnuts are) for anyone who wants them,” Ryan Scott, a partygoer wearing a pink rabbit onesie and holding a box of Tim Hortons Timbits, said. “Especially the cops, ‘cause I know cops like doughnuts. So, like, if I get arrested, I’ll be like, ‘Hey, I’ll bargain with you.’ ”

Scott, a senior studying strategic communication, was one of hundreds of individuals to attend the last street fest of the year on Palmer Street.

Officers from the Athens Police Department arrested four people and the Ohio University Police Department arrested 10 people Saturday, all on alcohol-related charges, according to a city of Athens news release. Arrest numbers from the Ohio Investigative Unit were not available by press time.

Police began shutting parties down by 3 p.m. and, according to the news release, most were shut down by 5:30 p.m.

The Athens County Emergency Medical Service transported three individuals to O’Bleness Memorial Hospital for reasons the news release did not specify.

One man sat on the curb yelling “they’re arresting me illegally” as police detained him. His friend, Shay Rooney, a resident of Toms River, New Jersey, witnessed the incident.

Rooney said the friend was being arrested because he attempted to intervene in the arrest of another partygoer.

“One of my friends, he got a little bit too, you know, intoxicated,” Rooney said. “So he got put away, but my other friend was just trying to follow up and see what was going on and see where he was going and how we can help him get out. ... And the cop told him, ‘If you don’t step away we’re going to detain you.’ ”

Athens Police Department Chief Tom Pyle said it was typical for parties to get shut down at about 3 or 4 p.m. during Palmer Fest, adding that the event tends to be more congested than other fests. On a particular section of the street during the afternoon, partygoers blocked the sidewalk, causing officers to shut down those parties.

Pyle said Palmer Fest attendance started out fairly light this year, but grew in the afternoon.

“It seems like it warmed up a couple degrees and the precipitation stopped and a couple more people showed up,” he said.

OUPD Lt. Tim Ryan said he thought less people attended this year’s fest, possibly due to the cold weather.

Temperatures stayed below 40 degrees, and snow fell off and on throughout the day. Festgoers wore onesies and dressed in multiple layers to keep warm.

Connor Childs, a freshman studying health service administration, said he showed up to Palmer Fest wearing four layers. He said the craziest thing he had seen all day was four guys urinating in the same bathroom at once: two a the shower, one a toilet and one a sink.

As a whistle sounded and mounted police surrounded a party across the street at about 3 p.m., he and his friends decided to leave.

“We’re going to the bars now because the cops are here,” he said.

Molly McIlvain, a junior studying health service administration, said she “fest-proofed” her house in preparation for Palmer Fest by moving a coffee table to give guests more space and locking away her toilet paper before people got there.

“I’m surprised at the turnout because of how cold it is,” McIlvain said.

Tyrell Butler, a senior studying engineering, carried a stuffed doll of Finn, a character from the Cartoon Network series Adventure Time, on his back.

“I talked to the police,” Butler said. “They’re really good. They’re not trying to take everybody down. We’re all just having a good time, you know. Everybody's having fun.”

One OU alumnus, Robert Glasgow, a resident of Fort Wayne, Indiana, stopped by the fest while he visited his daughter, a current OU freshman.

Glasgow graduated in 1984, and lived on Palmer Street as a student about 35 years ago.

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They didn’t have events like Palmer Fest back then, he said, adding that Athens has changed since his time at OU.

“It’s grown,” he said. “The town’s grown. It’s nice.”

— Julia Fair, Megan Henry, Maddie Peck, Nora Jaara and Kaitlin Coward contributed to this report


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