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Rowdy Palmer Fest shut down early with riot gear

Some students jumped off roofs while others ate ice cream at Palmer Fest on Saturday.

Sunny, 80-degree weather brought hundreds of people to Palmer Street. Festgoers swarmed an ice cream truck on the street.

Beginning at about 11 a.m., houses on Palmer Street blasted music, and people gathered in the sun. Among people playing catch and throwing pies for a fundraiser, police monitored the street on horses and from sidewalks. 

Police cleared the street with riot gear just before 3 p.m.

“This weather and crowd size is too dense and dangerous, people throwing things in air, sidewalks were impassable,” Athens Police Chief Tom Pyle said. “Every single house was in violation of noise ordinance.”

Nagee Williams, a sophomore studying computer science, said he saw someone get attacked by a police horse. 

“The horse was chomping on his hair a little bit, you know what I’m saying?” Williams said.

In a driveway before the shutdown, students cooled off with ice cream. Clara Hendrix, a sophomore studying sociology, said she had never seen an ice cream truck during fests.

“But that’s exciting because it’s so hot,” Hendrix said.

Bobcat HART, a student organization that advocates for animals, held a pie-throwing contest to raise money for local animal sanctuaries.

Rocco DeNiro, a junior studying integrated social studies, had a bloody nose after getting pied in the face by his girlfriend. 

“I knew as soon as I felt it, like I’m either bleeding or my nose is broken,” DeNiro said. “It’s one of the two.”

Devin Burns, a senior studying criminology, believes parties during fests get shut down because it’s harder to control a larger group of people. 

“I mean, you can tell how congested it is just by looking around,” Burns said. “So (police) like to shut (everything) down so it’s not as congested.”

The street was crowded by 2 p.m. despite the heat. William Faught, director of the Vinton County Emergency Management Agency, said temperatures can affect fest attendance and behavior.

“It matters on the weather, whether it goes high or low usually. Pretty nice day, pretty good group,” he said.

In 2016, Palmer Fest was shut down at about 5:30 p.m.; last year, the fest was shut down near 4 p.m. Pyle said those parties were shut down because of the large number of people on the street, according to a previous Post report

“It’s kind of diminished in the four years that I’ve been here because they shut it down a lot earlier and stuff, but it has been a good time,” Alex Sasyn, a senior studying athletic training, said.

As parties began to get shut down, Athens County residents went from lawn to lawn to collect empty cans and bottles. Doug Howard, a Chauncey resident, has been collecting cans for many years. 

Howard said he collects cans twice a month around Ohio University’s campus. 

“I recycle, I clean up my environment,” Howard said. “I pull a trailer with my bike here.”

 — Maggie Campbell, Zoe Stitzer, George Shillcock and Shelby Campbell contributed to this report.



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