Are these Ads too Harsh for Nantucket?
Are Recent Nantucket July 4 Celebrations Too Much for the Island?
How well will Nantucket weather another summer's invasion by online followers of What's Up Tucket, Jack Wills and Boston Barstool Sports, the latter being promoters of "blackout tours" devoted to the "sport" of drinking to excess.
An ad hoc group of Nantucket social service, health and civic groups has met since early this year to ask that question. After months of deliberations, Nantucket's Alliance Against Substance Abuse (ASAP) created a visual ad campaign to remind revelers about the dangers and possible consequences of too much alcohol and out-of-control parties. Some find the ads too harsh. Others endorse whatever effort might help stem the tide of rising alcohol abuse and other dangers that arise during these events. This week, the ads launched via social media including Facebook and Twitter.
July 4th on Nantucket usually brings throngs of travelers to the island including seasonal homeowners with their families and tourists of all kinds. Over recent July 4th holidays on Nantucket, an extraordinary number of college-age and younger students have also flocked to the island, spurred on by internet sites promoting raucous partying and heavy drinking.
On an island accustomed to influxes of tens of thousands of visitors around summer holidays, the 2011 Independence Day weekend grew into an especially problematic one for local law enforcement and Nantucket Cottage Hospital workers. According the Nantucket Police Department estimates, around 6.500 young people congregated on Nantucket's South Shore beaches that weekend to celebrate the holiday. "Party at Nobadeer on Nantucket" became their rallying cry.
Retailers and social media sites spurred on the gathering through college-oriented blogs and websites. Enthusiasm grew as the weekend approached through Twitter updates. Many of the youthful celebrants came with an agenda topped by a similar goal: party hard and fill up on alcohol. As a result, many of the more than 80 patients brought to the Nantucket Cottage Hospital emergency room on Sunday, July 3 and again on Monday, July 4 suffered from alcohol poisoning. Rumors circulated about kids being near death on the beach, with one story claiming a young girl had died from an alcohol overdose and was run over on the beach-- a thankfully untrue story.
For residents on the island, the weekend turned into the loudest and most boisterous in memory. Beachside neighborhoods and the areas around the island's late-night entertainment venues felt the brunt. Partygoers tramped across neighborhood yards on the their way to and from the beach. The Nantucket nightclubs The Box and The Muse vibrated both nights with raucous crowds. Rowdy, drunken groups rambled around mid-island, tossing bottles into parking lots and sometimes breaking out into fisticuffs that spilled into streets.
Many who oversee Nantucket's public safety and welfare have worried about a repeat of that weekend's events. For the past several weeks, an ad hoc group of local social service, public safety and healthcare organizations have met to brainstorm ways to soften the blow for July 4th, 2012. Spearheaded by ASAP and the island's Suicide Prevention Program, the group suggested new enforcement procedures by Nantucket Police Department, advertising and a social media campaign on Facebook and Twitter at Nantucket July 4. In early June, both members of the ad hoc group and Nantucket Chief of Police Bill Pittman appeared before the island's Board of Selectmen to lay out their plans. Although no formal vote was taken, the BOS registered their approval with the campaign and plans for stricter enforcement by the NPD. That presentation at the BOS is now among videos posted on new cable TV Channel Nantucket 18.