Ann Arbor police close South University bars early as St. Pat's revelers converge on street
Up to 1,000 people gathered for St. Patrick's Day partying on South University near midnight, prompting Ann Arbor Police to close the bars by 1 a.m.
Paula Gardner | AnnArbor.com
"There was a huge influx of patrons," said Staff Sgt. Mike Scherba early Sunday.
The lines to get into the bars stretched three blocks, he said, and included people who'd been partying all day.
By 1 a.m., AAPD — assisted by three other agencies — were closing the bars and asking the crowd to disperse.
That wasn't an issue for the establishments, Scherba added: "The bars were good with it."
There were reports of some unruly people in the streets and some vehicle damage, but Scherba said most people left the area as police directed.
Courtney Reed, a manager at the Brown Jug who was tending the bar Saturday night, said she heard tales of people outside jumping on top of cars. She said it was an especially busy St. Patrick's Day, likely because it fell on a Saturday and people didn't have to work.
Reed said she was disappointed when the order came to close an hour early.
"People were definitely still going at it, drinking and stuff, so it definitely was a bummer to close," she said.
Her co-worker, Curtis Simeral, worked a 13-hour shift manning the front door Saturday from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Asked whether people were civil throughout the day, he replied, "No they were not."
"I had people throwing cans and bottles from their windows trying to hit the trash cans because there are apartments around the corner on Church Street," Simeral said. "I had to call the cops twice on them.
"The main problem was people would stumble from another bar, put themselves together enough to seem OK, then all of a sudden they were St. Patrick's Day drunk."
There were some arrests for disorderly conduct, including a few people who spent the night in the AAPD lockup until they sobered up Sunday morning.
Police were armed with pepper spray at the scene, but Scherba said no reports of the spray being used made it to his desk.
Commanders on the scene estimated the crowd at 600 to 1,000, "more than a typical weekend," Scherba said.
Mike Gradillas, general manager of the Blue Leprechaun, said the bar was on the outskirts of most of the commotion and had no problems throughout the day. He said the bar anticipated having a busy day and beefed up its door staff and lowered its capacity accordingly.
"It was a long day," Gradillas said. "It’s always good that you can end a day successfully. It was a busy day, we’d been open all day. In fact, knowing that the police were there in our best interest, if things had gotten out of hand, it could have spread into our bar.”
No injuries were reported.
The incident on South University was the most notable in a day when calls for service were double a typical weekend day, Scherba said.
He called it a "perfect storm," noting the St. Patrick's Day holiday and 70-degree weather on a weekend day.
A visit to South University at about 10 a.m. Sunday showed the cleanup was under way, though piles of debris still remained outside of some bars. See video report below.
Freelance writer Sven Gustafson contributed to this report.