Student-caused Harborfest ruckus, mess strikes tension in city

Photo provided by Lee Walker
Photo provided by Lee Walker

Students crowding the Flat Rock area of Oswego for Harborfest celebrations received criticism after pictures of leftover debris from the weekend surfaced on the D-Bus Facebook page.

Senior Jared Lahm, also known as DJ Swan, has received much of the blame from Oswego residents for being one of three disc jockeys who played there that weekend.

“The party at the Flat Rocks happens every year; we were no different from anyone else that was there, our music was just louder,” Lahm said.

The DJ issued a statement on his public Facebook page explaining his involvement in the incident, which received backlash from numerous members of the community.

In response, Lahm said: “Did it seem like we were running the show? Yes. But, to be honest, if we had told a thousand drunk college students to pick up their garbage, they wouldn’t have listened.”

In the statement, Lahm made sure to thank the volunteers who picked up after the party.

“We were proud about, after all the work we put in, people had a lot of fun, but we were not proud of the outcome,” Lahm said.

Campus gives opinions on Flat Rocks party.

Brittni Switser volunteered to help with cleanup and she said the initial amount of debris was shocking.

“I saw a ton of empty cans, drenched cardboard beer boxes, broken glass, fire pit remnants, papers, there was a towel floating in between two of the rocks,” Switser said. “It was just a giant mess.”

According to Switser, volunteers dredged about 100 cans out of Lake Ontario.

“A few people were diving into the water and pulling up three to four cans at a time,” Switser said.

Speculation for next year’s event has already begun as Oswego residents are calling for increased security at next year’s festival and also limited access for students to the Flat Rocks throughout the busy weekend. This problem is unlikely to go

away any time soon, as a Palladium Times article published Sept. 3 stated that the Oswego City Councilors are looking to transfer $30,000 to the Oswego Police Department to cover additional hours put in during Harborfest. The article noted how, though the city doesn’t fund Harborfest, the festival does cost the city money from paying police and city firefighters overtime.

According to U.P. Assistant Chief Kevin Velzy, enforcement of the Flat Rock area mostly falls to Oswego Police Department officers.

According the Oswego city police blotter for the weekend for July 26-28, there were seven disorderly conducts, five open container violations, three possession of drug violations, two driving under the influences, one driving while intoxicated, one noise ordinance violation and one public urination.

Lee Walker, who took the photo that generated the response, said students were responsible for the controversy.

“Students were the problem,” said Walker. “I’m all for having a good time, but we’re all in college and adults; just because you’re not home does not mean you don’t have to clean up after yourself.”

Olivia Ugino
Contributing Writer

5 thoughts on “Student-caused Harborfest ruckus, mess strikes tension in city

  1. As an alumna of SUNY Oswego, I am appalled by the desecration of the Flat Rocks. If these children cannot behave while having a good time then access to the area should be limited. They only have themselves to blame – and the college should be fined for the labor and supplies required to clean up the mess. Hopefully the college would pass on the cost to the students; there certainly must be plenty of digital images floating around the ‘net so these degenerates can be identified.

  2. Having lived across from the Flat Rocks, it was always the perfect place to spend a relaxing afternoon. The last time I lived in Oswego during Harborfest, in 2011, the situation was no different, and the post-mortem the next day was still an effort. While the mess then didn’t approach what was seen this year, many friends still in the area were aghast at what was seen. However, rather than continue to lay blame and bicker amongst themselves, perhaps the summer Student population should look within its own to a teaching moment and work to see it doesn’t happen again.

  3. College is the best time of your life. Harborfest is one of the best times of these kids college experience, and going to the flatrocks is the best part of harborfest. I don’t think any of the kids like the fact that it gets trashed, but honestly what is one drunk kid going to try to clean it all up or try to convince a bunch of other drunk people to clean it all up? Instead of blaming them for having fun, maybe place some garbage cans down there before, and the next day have some of the welfare receiving nearby residents earn their free monthly paycheck and have them clean it up. Either way, the pollution is not half as bad as the nearby power plants so maybe they should be the ones cleaning it up.

  4. While I agree that putting trashcans down there ahead of time makes sense Charlie, the rest of your post is beyond immature. As someone who enjoyed partying at the Flat Rocks myself just a few years ago as a college student, I can say it never looked that bad afterward (and I personally didn’t throw garbage on the ground while there). Have fun, and then take your garbage with you.

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