Massachusetts Daily Collegian

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A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Amherst community prepares for Blarney Blowout

The Amherst community has set temporary rules and regulations in place for Blarney Blowout
Shilpa Sweth
Collegian (2023)

From larger police presence to bus detours, the Amherst community is preparing for this weekend’s Blarney Blowout, an annual tradition celebrated by UMass students before St. Patrick’s Day.

Blarney has been the site of police arrests and binge drinking “blackout rage gallons,” also known as “borgs,” which normally contain vodka, electrolytes and water. Last year, the Daily Hampshire Gazette reported that nearly 30 college students were sent to the hospital by ambulance due to alcohol intoxication related to Blarney.

This year, anyone caught with a “borg” could be cited with an open container violation, according to Laurie Loisel, spokesperson for the Northwestern District Attorney, which may result in a fine of $100 to $500 according to Section 24I of Massachusetts General Law.

“This is nothing new,” Loisel said. “Based on the way the day unfolded last year when ‘borgs’ were prevalent, there is more of a chance that students will be ferried to the hospital by ambulance to treat overconsumption of alcohol than being taken to jail. It is the hope of the DA’s office that students will celebrate safely.”

In addition, the Townehouse of Amherst condominiums and Puffton Village Apartments have released notices to residents, advising them of temporary rules and regulations that will be put in place this weekend.

A source close to the situation who was granted anonymity due to their position at the Townehouses of Amherst, said, “We do not promote or condone [Blarney] in any shape or form. In fact, we do everything in our power to try to prevent it from happening in the first place.”

On March 1, the Zoomass Instagram page posted a picture of Townehouses’ notice to residents concerning Blarney, which the source confirmed was accurate. The document states that the Townehouses have been “working diligently (and will continue to do so) with the Amherst Police Department, UMass Police Department, and the administrators of the University of Massachusetts to help with the concerns surrounding any, and all, annual spring celebrations.”

Security presence from March 7 to March 10 will increase “at the Townehouses of Amherst to prevent any unruly gatherings from happening,” the notice reads. Visitor parking passes requested at their office will be denied. Additionally, any vehicles found on the premises without a valid sticker or parked in the visitor parking lot will be towed.

The notice also states that residents should pick up any trash left on their property regardless of whether it belongs to them, otherwise, the resident(s) will face a trash pick-up fee.

“We take a lot of precaution and planning ahead of UMass Blarney,” said Reza Shafii, a trustee of the Townehouse of Amherst. “Townehouse does not invite or encourage any large gathering on its grounds. We have installed [an] eight-foot-tall fence around the courtyards and hired security forces to help monitor the crowd and keep things peaceful…If you are going to party, have fun, but do it without alcohol and be safe.”

Puffton Village Management stated in their notice that “additional watchman and staff will be on duty starting Friday evening and all day Saturday.”

Additionally, “any vehicles without parking permits or temporary permission (for residents on lease only) from the office will be towed without exception.” The entranceways of Puffton Village will also be closed off and staffed with personnel to all traffic except for residents, starting early Saturday morning until early Sunday morning. Only vehicles with Puffton resident parking permits or those on the temporary parking list are allowed inside the premises.

For individuals looking to take the bus, Brandy Pelletier, manager of marketing, advertising and public relations at Pioneer Valley Transit Authority (PVTA) said their busses will be passing by Puffton Village and Meadow Street/Townehouse Apartments all day Saturday. Additionally, Pelletier said they are not servicing North Amherst Center but will instead be using Riverside Park Plaza. Areas of detour for March 9 can be found here.

“PVTA, in cooperation with public safety officials in Amherst and at UMass Amherst, developed these detours to address potential service challenges expected this week,” Pelletier said. “The plan was developed to address concerns experienced in prior years and to minimize any potential service disruptions.”

UMass Spokesperson Ed Blagueszewski said that students who are looking to avoid campus this weekend can participate in Spring Blast, which includes a variety of free, university-sponsored programs happening on March 9. According to the event’s website, all bus trips are full and waitlists have reached capacity. However, students can still obtain free Comedy Blast tickets. The show will take place inside the Tillis Performance Hall at the Bromery Center for the Arts at 10:15 a.m.

Blagueszewski added that from March 7 at 8 p.m. through March 10 at 11 p.m. residential students can sign in up to two UMass Amherst students as guests. Only University students, faculty, staff and emergency/healthcare response staff are allowed in the residence halls during this period. Security desk hours will also be expanded in residence halls from March 7 through March 10.

“[The] University of Massachusetts Amherst officials and the Town of Amherst are working together collaboratively in their planning for March 9 to help ensure a safe and peaceful day in the town and on campus,” Blagueszewski said.

Liesel Nygard can be reached at [email protected] and followed on X @LieselNygard.

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