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Early St. Patrick's Day Rager Leads To 73 Arrests At Mass. College

Police had to use pepper spray to break up the crowds of thousands at the annual "Blarney Blowout."

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More than 70 people were arrested in a pre-St. Patrick's Day celebration called the "Blarney Blowout" at the University of Massachusetts Amherst on March 8, with police in riot gear having to take on thousands of partying co-eds.

AP Photo/The Republican, Robert Rizzuto

Police detain a participant in the pre-St. Patrick's Day "Blarney Blowout" near the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, Mass. on Saturday, March 8.

About 4,000 people had converged outside of an apartment complex around noon. When police from the university, assisted by city and state troopers, tried to end the festivities, they were pelted by glass bottles, beer cans, and snowballs.

Despite arrests, the party went on throughout the night; police responded to fights, noise complaints, and highly inebriated students, said Amherst police Capt. Jennifer Gundersen.

After breaking up the scene at the apartment complex, officers tried to break up a "dangerous and out of control" gathering of thousands at a frat house, and were again hit with bottles, rocks, cans, and snowballs. Four officers received minor injuries.

Gundersen described the daylong party as "extremely disturbing and unsafe."

Because of the size of the crowd and "assaultive behavior," police said they had to use pepper spray to disperse the crowd.

"Perhaps one of the worst scenes we have ever had with drunkenness and unruliness," Gundersen told The Republican in Springfield. "It is extremely upsetting. It is very dangerous."

The annual event was organized by local bars so that students could celebrate the Irish holiday before they went on spring break.

But the school emailed students to remind them that the university does not approve of the event.

UMass showing us they mean business about Blarney Blowout... #thanksumass

ZOOMass Amherst@zoomassa

UMass showing us they mean business about Blarney Blowout... #thanksumass

03:13 PM - 3 Mar 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

According to police, the scope of the gatherings have led to "violence and fights, injuries, severe alcohol intoxication, sexual assaults, excessive noise, property damage and violence toward police and community members."

Charges included "inciting to riot, failing to disperse, disorderly conduct, liquor law violations and assault and battery on officers." Some were released on bail the next morning, while some were still held, depending on their charges.

A fave image from the @UMass #BlarneyBlowout

UMass Amherst warned students that police would have an increased presence at the event after multiple people were arrested last year.

Spokesman Ed Blaguszewski said the university will review incidents involving students who were arrested, who are subject to expulsion or suspension.

The party was "mayhem," Amherst Capt. Christopher Pronovost told the Daily Hampshire Gazette.

"This can't be in any way, shape or form be characterized as a party," he said. "This is destruction of property (and) assaultive behavior."

Another arrest on Fearing Street. #BlarneyBlowout.

Larry Kelley@amherstac

Another arrest on Fearing Street. #BlarneyBlowout.

02:33 PM - 8 Mar 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

Despite the pandemonium, "Blarney Blowout" attendees took to social media to brag about the rager.

I woke up not dead or in jail. Successful #BlarneyBlowout

Neil Bednar@Neilbednar

I woke up not dead or in jail. Successful #BlarneyBlowout

09:25 AM - 9 Mar 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

#BlarneyBlowout made national headlines, so proud to say i attend zoo mass.


#BlarneyBlowout made national headlines, so proud to say i attend zoo mass.

01:31 PM - 9 Mar 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

Another video said that tear gas was used to break up a crowd of over 2,000, though in it students seem to be cooperating.

View this video on YouTube

Watch the scene at the "Blarney Blowout."

View this video on YouTube

Rachel Zarrell is a news editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.

Contact Rachel Zarrell at

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