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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.



Visit the ASAP website to see the ads:

A tough message needs to be conveyed for rowdy visitors or residents that think they are going to break laws such as under age drinking and those that desire to literally trash the beaches. That type behavior is not acceptable anywhere.

eastwind's picture

Like the excesses Memorial Day weekend (this last one was epic), the 4th draws a particular crowd of young people that appears to have zero appreciation for the island, its residents, or social order in general. It's not the intensity of the reveling so much as the shear numbers of revelers. The community needs to push back the tide of the party trade, or totally lose the appeal to the better heeled, and family oriented visitor. A holiday visit to Nantucket should not be a cellular call for a free for all and open season on it's indigenous inhabitants and resources.

I don't think that the ads are too harsh, they are like the ads on cigarette packs in Canada showing pictures of blackened lungs and diseased babies.  However, just like the cigarette packs, I'm pretty sure the ads will have no effect.  The people that are affected by seeing these ads are not the ones littering and fouling up our beaches on the Fourth.  Fourth of July falling on a Wednesday this year should do something to stem the tide of disrespectful revelers.

As someone who has partied for years at Nobadeer on the Fourth (and I ALWAYS clean up after myself), I think its a travesty that things have gotten so out of hand.  However, I'm afraid the only thing that will dissuade this new breed of drinker will be getting arrested- thus more police presence on the beach.  I hate to say it, but these idiots won't actually care until they are thrown in the back of a wagon.

Graphic warning labels on cigarette packs 'work better'

I think that the ads are good ones, but not sure if would necessarily be a deterrent. Nantucket has a beach advisory committee. The "rules" are no drinking on the beach. It needs to be re-looked at if in fact we are allowing open containers. It is all fun and games until someone's parents sue the Town. Further, I would like to be able to access all of Dionis. It is poor PR that it is not allowed. Do I think that is gonna happen anytime soon? Uhm, not a chance. I am of the Mad Jam days. They brought mounted police then. We need to get to a place where we uniformly follow the rules, or we don't. And if we are not going to, the "rules" need to come before Town meeting and let us all decide.

As I was thinking of this more this a.m. it dawned on me that currently, people are asked to leave the beach after dark unless they are actively fishing. There are no more beach parties at night. (and I am not necessarily pro or con on that one). One can't even park in parking lots of beaches or really anyplace else anymore to talk, have coffee---no loitering at night. These rules are enforced all winter for the people of Nantucket. It is amazing to me what this Town allows when it is the summer folk. And perhaps a good tactic for July 4th is to advise the colleges (fraternities, sororities, athletic teams, etc) that if they come to Nantucket July 4th, and they break the bylaw on public open containters, they will be arrested. Period. If they are underage and found will alcohol, they will be arrested. Period. If they are drunk and disorderly, they will be arrested. Are we really caring that the college kids will be so peeved that they will not spend money here? Besides the liqour stores (who I know have to make a living too) and the bars (which lets face it, most are passed out by 7pm) where exactly are they spending money???

Wow! For anyone to say that off-islanders present themselves as less than an opportunity - and more as a nuisance - is surely to miss the point! All off-islanders - myself included - can immerse themselves into any of the myriad distractions and wonders of Nantucket.

Perhaps with the “beer-fest” occupying center-stage trouble abounds. Were there to be satellite distractions – all-night food stalls, a fairground, an 'official' on-the-beach 'pop-up' club, portable restrooms, clearly defined lanes onto and off the beaches etc etc, any group of enterprising individuals can turn the problematic into a fantastic opportunity. However, leaving the beer-fest to its own devices brings the triple-B of dismay - Beach, Beer and Barfing!!!

An enterprising individual(s) might set up a fest alongside (call it The Fringe) and attract the attention of lively youngsters, keeping them occupied and interested - and convincing them that it was worthwhile coming to the island - whilst at the same time - because they have been occupied and engaged elsewhere, reducing their intake of alcohol.

If alcohol's the only diversion for them, then I guess there'll be trouble. A travelling fairground, an 'official' on-the-beach pop-up club, all-nite food-stalls, portable restrooms, well-marked trails to and from the beach - there surely is a way to turn these excitable young people into a fantastic oportunity for the island... unless we all accede to a world that starts at 8 a.m. and is safely snug and wrapped-up in bed by 10p.m.! <yawn> what kind of an island is that (oh, I mean, that is the off-season island - and long may the off-season island proliferate). But its summer - time to make the island work!

You have a valid point, Hector. Historically, the Town has been less than enthusiastic to endorse a viable option, therefore, without a permit, there is a no open container bylaw. Even if "the fringe" were to be activity as opposed to alcohol based, the "purpose" according to social media grapevines is a booze fest for college kids. And I am in total agreement that it seems a little odd that a boat race and activities is permitted by the Town, however, something like the "Mad Jam" of the 80's--which is something akin to what you describe is not something that has endorsed the support of the Town (granted, many years ago). With all that being said, there are still a number of homewoners in the area, and I do not blame them for being upset over the shennanigans that seems to come with July 4th. Especially when beach management committees and local by-laws are put into place to protect this type of activity without a permitting process.

I think these ads are great, it's shameful what has been happening in previous years at these beaches. I'm sure those opposing the ads will volunteer their time Thursday to do beach cleanup though ;)

linda spery's picture

Whether the campaign will make a difference on July 4th beach scene, we'll have to wait and see. But what has happened since we launched the campaign in early June has been gratifying to see the Nantucket Alliance for Substance Abuse Prevention (ASAP), the Nantucket Cottage Hospital, the Nantucket Police Department, the Nantucket Board of Selectmen, the Nantucket Public Schools, Family & Children Services Nantucket and hundreds of individuals who have had the courage to take a stand. Rather than ACK heads being hidden in the (beach) sand another year, the issue has been brought out into the light of day and is being discussed in a meaningful way in the print and on-line media, Facebook, Twitter, and in conversations on island and the mainland. If you're interested in contributing your ideas and opinions such as those you've shared here at Nantucket Chronicle, ASAP invites you to be a part of our campaign not only for July 4th but year-round. You can find out more about what we do at

Linda Spery
ASAP Board