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Posted on Sun, Mar 18, 2012 : 9:12 a.m.

Ann Arbor police close South University bars early as St. Pat's revelers converge on street

By Paula Gardner

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.


Random trash was still strewn on parts of South University by 10 a.m. Sunday, including this planter outside of Good Time Charleys.

Paula Gardner |

"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.



Mon, Mar 19, 2012 : 6:02 p.m.

I saw a few commenters blaming students for this yearly fiasco. My observation is that most of the time these are not UM students involved in these drink and drug fueled quasi riots. It's mostly 20 and 30 something slackers from Ann Arbor, Ypsi, and surrounding suburbs. It's the "failure to launch" types still living at home, probably in the basement. I'd bet there are parents reading this now whose slacker kids were involved in this and other activities like it (sporting event tail gating gone awry, etc.) The only thing in common with the University is the hooligans may have been wearing some sort of oversized sport garment with the block M insignia. I currently live in a city nearly 5 times the size of Ann Arbor, and I can tell you that we did not experience a quarter of the trouble on St Pat's day. Ann Arbor is a very liberal little city ... and the local and suburban slackers know they can get away with just about anything. Before you blame the generally studious hard-working UM students ... take a hard look at who is living in your basements!

Michigan Man

Mon, Mar 19, 2012 : 5:19 p.m.

What a bunch of slobs - I thought Ann Arbor had the smartest people in the USA? What happened to our All American status?


Mon, Mar 19, 2012 : 4:36 p.m.

Better coverage in the Michigan Daily, which is not bad these days. There are plenty of good stories out there for them to dig into. let's hope they step up. In a town with no newspaper they could do some interesting things. Go Blue.


Mon, Mar 19, 2012 : 12:43 p.m.

Solo cups & beer cans & litter - OH MY! To the best of my knowledge, St. Patrick's Day has been celebrated with excessive consumption of alcohol, inebriation & drunken shenanigans for maybe 300, 400 years? Hellooo & DUH!


Mon, Mar 19, 2012 : 2:32 a.m.

There once was this town named Ann Arbor That flourished from the students they harbor. But when the students they play The townsfolk they say "No drinking, but we'd still like your dollar."

David Paris

Mon, Mar 19, 2012 : 2:14 a.m.

Wow it looks like everyone had a great time! Maybe next time St Patty's Day falls on a Saturday, they should just close down South U., set up some band-stands, and pay some maintenance workers to keep the place in shape.

David Briegel

Mon, Mar 19, 2012 : 2:09 a.m.

You think the students did this? Those poor innocent merchants? And I challenge to do a pictorial on a Sunday morning of Main Street and Division between William and Huron and compare.

Tom Joad

Mon, Mar 19, 2012 : 2:07 a.m.

This bacchanal should put to rest the ludicrous call for proposed legislation to give immunity to minor in possession charges when a minor presents to the emergency room with alcohol poisoning.

Andrea Zastrow

Mon, Mar 19, 2012 : 5:08 p.m.

Like for a "cinnamon schnapps challenge" of some sort?


Mon, Mar 19, 2012 : 1:46 a.m.

It's sad that college students have turned a religious holiday into an all day drunk fest.

Michigan Man

Mon, Mar 19, 2012 : 5:21 p.m.

My guess would be that less that 99% of the current U of M students really have no understanding or would even know who Saint Patrick is or what Saint Patrick accomplished in his life?

Susan Brown

Mon, Mar 19, 2012 : 1:23 a.m.

My son's car was vandalized on Packard St. Saturday night. Has anyone heard of any other vandalisms in that area. We filed a police report, but who knows what that will bring. Thanks for any help here. Someone jumped on the hood and roof leaving a lot of dents. We were worried about the hail the other day. No match for college students.

The Picker

Mon, Mar 19, 2012 : 12:54 p.m.

I know what that will bring ! ........ A police report ! Thats it !


Mon, Mar 19, 2012 : 1:46 a.m.

Sorry, wrong news site. You'll have to read the Michigan Daily.

Frustrated in A2

Mon, Mar 19, 2012 : 12:21 a.m.

I'm glad I left town to go drink with some pro's and not be stuck with these young rookies Lol!!!

Mike Carry

Mon, Mar 19, 2012 : 12:13 a.m.

Very interested to see how Stephen Postema reacts to this situation........

john dingle

Sun, Mar 18, 2012 : 11:46 p.m.

WOW !!! Hmmmm how come nobody is talking about the gunshots fired in front of Dream night club Saturday night ?????


Sun, Mar 18, 2012 : 10:51 p.m.

Remember this when you people start complaining about the savagery of punk week.


Sun, Mar 18, 2012 : 10:18 p.m.

Hope they all have huge hangovers....amateurs

Alan Goldsmith

Sun, Mar 18, 2012 : 9:24 p.m.

"I talked to a woman who lives in U Towers, and whatever happened didn't even prompt her to look out of her windows." The real question is, did any of last night's happening have any connection with Mark's Carts or impact their business?

The Picker

Mon, Mar 19, 2012 : 12:51 p.m.

I heard the dancing sandwich was stumbling down S. U. though !


Sun, Mar 18, 2012 : 8:59 p.m.

What? No criticism that the police "overreacted"?


Sun, Mar 18, 2012 : 7:28 p.m.

Closing the bars early didn't work 25 years ago and still doesn't work -- it just forces thousands of now-angry drunks onto the street at the same time. If anything they should allow the bars to stay open later, allowing the drunks to trickle out until morning.


Sun, Mar 18, 2012 : 7:10 p.m.

Sounds like you aren't allowed anymore to make an honest living feeding the binge drinking needs of undergraduates. To think we have stooped this low. I blame Bush.


Sun, Mar 18, 2012 : 6:47 p.m.

that video had me at the edge of my seat!

Unusual Suspect

Sun, Mar 18, 2012 : 6:43 p.m.

I haven't see that much litter since the last Occupy rally.

Michigan Man

Mon, Mar 19, 2012 : 5:18 p.m.

Not sure if the occupy crowd or these drunk morons are the bigger slobs - I thought the smartest people in America lived in Ann Arbor?


Sun, Mar 18, 2012 : 6:05 p.m.

The news with a timely many hours after it happened? Why even pretend you're on top of things? Links to real news organizations, etc. all point to a minimal staff always behind the curve (the trailing edge of the news, not the leading edge). I was uptown around 2 PM and could have told you this was happening and going to spin out of control at some point. - where you can always find yesterday's news (and weather).


Mon, Mar 19, 2012 : 2:39 a.m.

So why didn't you tell me? Isn't that the definition of insane laziness? Knowing something will happen, but doing nothing about it!


Sun, Mar 18, 2012 : 5:50 p.m.

Most of the garbage you see on the ground is because every trash can was full. We walked from Main street all the way down to State and then through the Diag last night at 10:00 and every single trash can on the street and in the Diag was heaping full. Let me guess the city and U of M forgot Saturday was St. Patrick's Day so they didn't bother to empty the cans Saturday morning? With a little planning and someone dumping cans around 6:00 pm the mess would not have been near as bad. Of course if the objective is to make it look bad so you can get a nice cover picture for your "news" article it worked.

Unusual Suspect

Sun, Mar 18, 2012 : 7:39 p.m.

Wait.... so now it's against "conversation guidelines" to point out that people should dispose of their trash in a suitable location? Really?

Paula Gardner

Sun, Mar 18, 2012 : 6:44 p.m.

I'm quite sure making it look bad wasn't the objective of the city or UM.


Sun, Mar 18, 2012 : 5:33 p.m.

Too much carelessness and disregard for public property by the younger folks who patronized those drinking establishments. Very sad to see. The Ann Arbor police took the appropriate action. Perhaps some or many of the patrons were there all day as is the case each St Patrick's Day. Overall, this situation is not unique to either South U or Ann Arbor as it is common in many other communities with large college campuses. Too much commercialization of St Patrick's Day for drinking. I am against more restrictions but there is an undertone to use this day as a resason to over indulge.


Sun, Mar 18, 2012 : 8:47 p.m.

Geez, more 'gov't regulation'? We need to let businesses go after the bucks and unleash them to maximize profits so they can pay taxes to support this kind of stuff. Oh, they don't pay much in taxes now and it's up to the taxpayers (the ones really paying something) to clean up the mess? Opps. That's what I get for listening to Republicans I guess.

Tom Joad

Sun, Mar 18, 2012 : 5:28 p.m.

"the bars were good with it" As long as the money kept coming they were good with it, even though arguably most of the patrons were legally intoxicated. A bar should have a limit on the number of drinks they can serve to an individual customer...more than three drinks for anyone puts them over the top.

Susanne Brace

Mon, Mar 19, 2012 : 2:04 a.m.

That isn't true. It depends on the drink, the person, and the time frame. The bars can refuse to serve a customer if they appear to be too intoxicated. A limit would be difficult to set and keep track of, if others are buying rounds for their friends etc.


Sun, Mar 18, 2012 : 6:55 p.m.

Your definition of the term "anyone" is inaccurate.

Paula Gardner

Sun, Mar 18, 2012 : 5:16 p.m.

It's a valid question. I talked to a woman who lives in U Towers, and whatever happened didn't even prompt her to look out of her windows. Police said they wouldn't be surprised if there was some car damage (by now there could be reports, and we'll check back), but did say there wasn't any car tipping/flipping or fires. And the fights didn't rise to the level of assault, based on the initial conversations I had. I have no doubt it was chaotic and could have escalated.


Sun, Mar 18, 2012 : 4:27 p.m.

Hmmm. The Daily story mentioned car windows being smashed and fights. Are the policy trying to play down what happened the morning after, a2dotcom?


Sun, Mar 18, 2012 : 3:40 p.m.

don't you just love it when we as a society give license to senseless drinking? glad no one was hurt and there was no serious damage done to property, but have to admit I am surprised.


Sun, Mar 18, 2012 : 5:28 p.m.

I do agree ... senseless drinking, that began very early yesterday morning. I also hope that no one was hurt, especially by drunk drivers. I worried about my college student, who had to drive to/from work, with probably lots of drunks on the road.


Sun, Mar 18, 2012 : 2:20 p.m.

Sooner or later this annual bacchanalia is going to tip civilization over the cosmic balance beam and slide us all into a dystopian nightmare. Thank goodness the AAPD was yet again alertly on duty to save us all from ourselves.


Sun, Mar 18, 2012 : 10:24 p.m.

There used to be free motorcycle parking at East & South U. I worked midnights, and found my bike gone when I got there in the morning. (Oh, this was during bball playoffs quite a few years ago) The police had "towed" my bike. I initially was pissed but the more I thought about it, prob saved my bike. For about $100


Sun, Mar 18, 2012 : 3:33 p.m.

Or your couch is set on fire, sparty.


Sun, Mar 18, 2012 : 2:48 p.m.

All in fun until your home or car gets damaged, or you get hurt? LoL.


Sun, Mar 18, 2012 : 2:04 p.m.

This story said it was posted 45 minutes ago...did anyone else see it, was it buried between basketball stories? Glad the police got it under control, seems like I was hearing a lot of sirens the last two nights


Sun, Mar 18, 2012 : 2:10 p.m.

Maybe the delay in the story was the result of pre-moderation.

Alan Goldsmith

Sun, Mar 18, 2012 : 1:59 p.m.

Thanks to the Michigan Daily for breaking this story....hours and hours ago. So do all the A2 Dot staff punch out for the weekend? Lol.


Mon, Mar 19, 2012 : 2:20 a.m.

Seriously, Alan, "breaking this story"?!?!? There's nothing to this story. That the police closed things down at 1am? Whatever. No riots, no tear gas. Just twenty-some years ago people were routinely tear gassed by the A2 police this time of year. My guess is you weren't around, lol.

Kai Petainen

Sun, Mar 18, 2012 : 10:40 p.m.

I like Paula's response... "The Daily did a great job with the breaking story." It's a humble, honest and professional response. Makes me respect the Ann Arbor news even more.


Sun, Mar 18, 2012 : 10:18 p.m.



Sun, Mar 18, 2012 : 7:18 p.m.

Alan why is it such a big deal to you that the Daily broke the story? Odds are at least some of the Daily's staff were out-and-about late at night so were the first to be exposed to it. I'm not normally a defender of this site's reporting but they posted a story at 9:12 a.m. Now that news sites have online components do you expect them to immediately report on everything?

Paula Gardner

Sun, Mar 18, 2012 : 2:45 p.m.

The Daily did a great job with the breaking story. From the light of day, it's not being called a "riot," but it obviously was interesting to watch it unfold, as the Daily story captured.


Sun, Mar 18, 2012 : 1:57 p.m.

I thought it was the "smoke shops" that are so detrimental to downtown? Could it be alcohol is worse?? Oh my!!


Sun, Mar 18, 2012 : 6:52 p.m.

It's neither. It's the idiotic people who can't handle adult choices.


Sun, Mar 18, 2012 : 1:47 p.m.

Early morning drinking certainly benefits some local businesses, however......


Mon, Mar 19, 2012 : 3:17 p.m.

Well, it certainly didn't help the smell of downtown on Sunday morning....the puke piles were in evidence as early as 2 pm Saturday so by Sunday when I walked the dogs...quite the bouquet! Does anyone know what went down at Conor O'Neils Saturday? I was told there was a large brawl on Main Street...


Sun, Mar 18, 2012 : 3:35 p.m.

Now they can pay to clean the trash on South U