St. Paddy's Party in Mass.: Riot Gear, Brawls, 73 Arrests

Note: The actual holiday is next Monday

By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff

Posted Mar 9, 2014 7:48 AM CDT

(Newser) – This is why we can't have nice St. Paddy's Day parties: With more than a week to go before the holiday honoring all things green and boozy, er, the 5th-century Catholic bishop, cops in Massachusetts had to break up a party that sounds more war zone-themed than Irish. As WBZ-TV reports, at least 73 revelers were arrested near the UMass Amherst campus yesterday in what a police spokeswoman called an "extremely disturbing and unsafe" annual exercise in debauchery called the "Blarney Blowout." The party, traditionally held the Saturday before spring break, got started early yesterday and police spent most of the day trying to break it up. Highlights: Police in riot gear firing "paintball-style guns loaded with pepper spray," fights, fireworks, and "thousands" of highly intoxicated people hurling beer cans and snowballs. Four cops were injured, notes the AP.

"This is something that was created by the downtown bars in Amherst to grab ahold of the kids before they all left the campus," says one UMass alum. "So it’s supposedly a St. Patrick’s Day celebration." In reality, says the police spokeswoman, it was "one of the worst scenes we have ever had with drunkenness and unruliness." This despite an Amherst Bulletin report last week that the town was ready for revelers after last year's event, which featured a relatively tame six arrests. Apparently, the "strongly worded emails" sent out by the university didn't quite resonate.

Police detain a participant in the pre-St. Patrick's Day Blarney Blowout near the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, Mass. on Saturday, March 8, 2014.
Police detain a participant in the pre-St. Patrick's Day "Blarney Blowout" near the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, Mass. on Saturday, March 8, 2014.   (AP Photo/The Republican, Robert Rizzuto)
People gather for the pre-St. Patrick's Day Blarney Blowout near the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, Mass. on Saturday, March 8, 2014.
People gather for the pre-St. Patrick's Day "Blarney Blowout" near the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, Mass. on Saturday, March 8, 2014.   (AP Photo/The Republican, Robert Rizzuto)
Police detain a participant in the pre-St. Patrick's Day Blarney Blowout near the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, Mass. on Saturday, March 8, 2014.
Police detain a participant in the pre-St. Patrick's Day "Blarney Blowout" near the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, Mass. on Saturday, March 8, 2014.   (AP Photo/The Republican, Robert Rizzuto)
Police surround participants in the pre-St. Patrick's Day Blarney Blowout near the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, Mass. on Saturday, March 8, 2014.
Police surround participants in the pre-St. Patrick's Day "Blarney Blowout" near the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, Mass. on Saturday, March 8, 2014.   (AP Photo/The Republican, Robert Rizzuto)
Police detain participants in the pre-St. Patrick's Day Blarney Blowout near the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, Mass. on Saturday, March 8, 2014.
Police detain participants in the pre-St. Patrick's Day "Blarney Blowout" near the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, Mass. on Saturday, March 8, 2014.   (AP Photo/The Republican, Robert Rizzuto)
Cans litter the ground after police dispersed hundreds participating in the pre-St. Patrick's Day Blarney Blowout near the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, Mass.
Cans litter the ground after police dispersed hundreds participating in the pre-St. Patrick's Day "Blarney Blowout" near the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, Mass.   (AP Photo/The Republican, Robert Rizzuto)
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