This year’s Blarney Blowout revelers well-behaved in Amherst
TOM RELIHAN A bagpiper prepares to enter McCarthy's Uptown Tavern on North Pleasant Street in Amherst during the Blarney Blowout on Saturday.
AMHERST — Steps to control college-aged revelers appear to have prevented problems at Saturday’s Blarney Blowout.
Clad in various shades of green and sporting Irish-themed beads, hats, headbands and other paraphernalia, groups of college-aged revelers did flock to downtown Amherst to participate in the event.
They began lining up outside of Stackers Pub and McCarthy’s Uptown Tavern — the two bars that sponsor the event — around 11 a.m., and both saw a steady flow of patrons through most of the afternoon. Antonio’s Pizza, which is next door to McCarthy’s, also appeared to have many customers for most of the day.
Town officials and police had expressed concern about the event, as last year’s celebration turned chaotic when large numbers of intoxicated people began wandering into the streets during the day and began urinating in public, vomiting and harassing families and young children.
This year’s festivities, however, appeared to be much more controlled. Over the past year, town officials, police and the owners of the two bars met to develop ways to make the event safer and less disruptive.
One of the measures taken to control the number of people gathering and to prevent long lines from forming was to have the bars sell a limited number of tickets.
Those who purchased a ticket were permitted to enter the bars at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Anyone who tried to enter without a ticket before 3 p.m. was turned away. Only 100 tickets were made available for each sitting.
And that strategy appears to have paid off because the only lines that formed in front of the bars were just before each seating.
A concern that people who were not able to get into either Stackers or McCarthy’s would migrate to other downtown bars proved to be a non-issue.
“We haven’t seen anything like that this year,” said Mike Yates, a bartender at the High Horse, another bar on Main Street. “Last year, there was a tremendous amount of early drinking.”
Many of the people who left the bars ended up boarding buses headed for North Amherst, where police said a number of parties were planned.
“I think because of the weather, a lot of people are preferring to go to the house parties,” said Amherst Police Sgt. Brian Johnson, who was on patrol throughout the downtown event.
“It’s less expensive, and that’s where a lot of the underage drinking can happen.”