A heavy police presence and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic kept Western’s Homecoming celebrations relatively subdued this year, but still drew people to Broughdale Avenue on Saturday.

The unauthorized street party on Broughdale Avenue did not reach pre-pandemic levels, but saw groups of students gather outside homes and along sidewalks. The intermittent downpour of rain may also have been a factor in the lower turnout.

Before the event, there were many concerns from community leaders about what could happen to students celebrating for homecoming amid the pandemic, and in recent years there was a crowd of more than 25,000 students.

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A large police presence on Broughdale Avenue where students celebrate Western Welcome Weekend. September 25, 2021.

Sawyer Bogdan / Global News

A large police presence was noted, with officers patrolling Broughdale Avenue and neighboring streets to disperse the crowd and keep the party contained in people’s homes and on the sidewalk.

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“A lot of planning has been done this weekend and we want to make sure that all of these resources are used to ensure everyone is safe,” said London Police Relief Media Relations Officer Cst. Scott Mandich.

“There is a large presence of emergency services, but I think it has remained a safe area, and that is the most important part.”

Broughdale, which is made up mostly of student housing, often saw thousands flock to his path during the Homecoming weekend leading up to the pandemic or the Fake Homecoming (FoCo) weekend, an informal party that was thrown in protests the fact that Western delayed their Homecoming date in an effort. to reduce unauthorized parts.

This year marks the first time since 2015 that Homecoming Saturday will fall on its original late September date.

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An exact number is unknown, but there were hundreds of students on Broughdale Avenue as of mid-afternoon Saturday.

As of Thursday noon, new orders issued by MLHU are in effect that essentially double fines for violating Ontario’s social gathering guidelines.

The province currently limits gatherings to 25 people indoors and 100 outdoors, and exceeding those numbers can now result in a $ 750 fine for individuals and a $ 1,000 fine for businesses or organizations under the new local orders. .

London police officer criticizing a young adult for having an open container of alcohol on the street during Western welcome weekend. September 25, 2021.

Sawyer Bogdan / Global News

Police did not have a number of how many tickets were awarded, but confirmed that some students had been fined. Police were also seen fining a group of people for having open containers of alcohol on the street.

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“The London Police Service is taking a firm but fair approach, we take it on a case-by-case basis, and when education doesn’t work, law enforcement is an option,” Mandich said.

“The police have been working with a lot of students and people on the scene to make sure we don’t have a big gathering on the street, people have been very receptive to moving forward.”

Read more:

COVID-19: MLHU Issues New Orders Ahead Of Possible HoCo Weekend Celebrations, FoCo

A group of students on Broughdale Avenue celebrating Western Welcome Weekend. September 25, 2021.

Sawyer Bogdan / Global News

Last year’s festivities were put on hold by the pandemic, but since all Western University students had to be fully vaccinated, more students seemed willing to join in on the fun.

For Western freshman Olivia Rymkiewicz, the homecoming was not exactly what she expected.

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“I have heard of quite large gatherings in the past and was very excited about it, but with COVID it is a little different than we expected and from many police officers,” Rymkiewicz said.

“I think (police presence) with COVID is to be expected, but with all of us vaccinated I think it should be more lenient.”

When asked about the higher fines for large gatherings, Rymkiewicz says he’s trying to have fun in his freshman year of college, but he’s avoiding larger crowds and wearing his mask when necessary.

Western third-year student Aidan Haskell says he’s enjoying the day with friends, but he’s still trying to be responsible.

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“We are trying to be respectful and listen to what the police officers tell us and to be aware of the COVID regulations as well,” Haskell said.

“I can understand why: I think very often college students forget that there is a larger community in the area, so obviously we want to be aware of these people,” Haskell responded when asked about duplicate fines for large gatherings. .

London Police are expected to have an estimate of the crowd and a tally of how many tickets were handed out next week.

With files from Andrew Graham

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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