Sunday, January 1, 2012

Arcata Plaza New Year's Eve: Meh

Posted By on Sun, Jan 1, 2012 at 11:48 AM

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The much hyped Arcata Plaza edition of New Year's Eve has come and gone. For those keeping score: no Presidents were scaled. No bottles went airborne. Grass still looks good. From the City of Arcata's standpoint: mission accomplished. But to many others, the New Year's buzz was killed.

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Much in the same way that a show of force by law enforcement was able to snuff out the unofficial annual 4/20 proceedings at Redwood Park, the thick blue line that protected the Plaza's Mckinley-adorned inner sanctum proved a more-than-adequate deterrent to any reveler that might have wanted to scale the 25th President. Destruction averted.

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But the atmosphere certainly less than festive. Around mid-New Year's Eve day -- as was foretold in a press release issued by the City on Thursday -- a chest-high mesh fence was erected cordoning off the concrete flower beds that form the Plaza's center. Another inescapable presence, the APD's new G.I.-Joe-Mobile-Command-Center-esque Critical Incident Response trailer -- a philanthropic donation received earlier this year -- was parked next to Bank of America on Eighth Street right off the Plaza to enable onsite arrestee processing.
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Law enforcement presence increased, as the night wore on. Adding to a heavy APD presence, officers from -- deep breath -- Eureka Police, Ferndale Police, Fortuna Police, Humboldt County District Attorney's Office, Humboldt State University Police and Rio Dell Police -- whew -- stationed themselves inside the fence and at the corners of the Plaza while also patrolling the perimeter. Woot!

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As the midnight hour approached, significantly less people than in years past made their way Plazaward. At around 12 a.m. -- depending on the time individual cell phones kept -- disjoined shouts of "Happy New Year," went up from the smatterings of groups on the outskirts of the plaza like separate kernels of popcorn popping.

For a brief moment, an obligatory drum circle -- seemingly determined to will some semblance of celebration into the night -- formed on the northwest corner of the Plaza. The rhythms, however, lasted a mere few minutes. One drummer was detained and the others were told to move along by law enforcement.

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A 2:22 a.m. press release announced that the "Arcata Police Department is pleased to announce a successful New Year's Eve on the Plaza" and thanked all involved for making this year "safe and enjoyable for the citizens of Arcata." Six arrests were made during the night: five for public intoxication, one for driving under the influence.

So. That's that. As reported by the Arcata Eye, a "Plaza Study Group" was formed at a Nov. 30 meeting held in response to the eye-opening Plaza Halloween debacle. That group and those interested in discussing how future holidays are handled are invited to gather Jan. 24 at 8 a.m. at City Hall.

Oh, and happy new year!

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Officers wrangle percussionist Oliver Crane of the Janky Mallets.

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Earlier: A lone rebellious seagull flips the City of Arcata the bird in advance of New Year's Eve.


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