This year's Clam Jam, a beach bash organized by Fairfield University students, ended with a total of 37 arrests and infractions - and angry permanent residents of Fairfield Beach in its wake.
Police on Monday said 19 people were issued infractions for possession of alcohol in public; seven were issued infractions for simple trespass; five were issued infractions for littering; three were charged with criminal trespass; one was issued an infraction for possession of alcohol by a minor; one was arrested for sixth-degree larceny; and one was arrested for breach of peace. Two vehicles also were towed, police said.
Paige Herman, who lives next to Lantern Point, a complex of rental homes by the corner of Fairfield Beach and Reef roads where Clam Jam traditionally takes place, wasn't pleased Monday at the return of the annual late April bash and said it was larger than last year's party. Permanent shoreline residents obtained an injunction in Bridgeport Superior Court in 2006 that limits to 250 the number of people who can be in Lantern Point's common areas at any one time. Herman said Saturday's bash easily exceeded that number.
"It's a disgrace. It's a disgrace that the university allows this," Herman said, adding that police can't do anything until the party gets out of control because it's held on private property, and, when it gets out of control, everyone at Fairfield Beach is in jeopardy. Media reports estimated the Clam Jam crowd at 1,500.
Herman said she believed Saturday's Clam Jam violated the injunction obtained by Fairfield Beach residents, but questioned what they could do. She said residents filed a court action in protest of last April's Clam Jam but a judge ruled that the Lantern Point Association, which owns the property, did not willfully allow last year's bash to take place. "That's his opinion. I don't agree with it," she said.
A security guard was stationed at the entrance to Lantern Point on Saturday, but Herman said the guard wasn't there the whole time and that she counted 97 people in about a 20-minute period who entered Lantern Point unchallenged. "When the guard was there, it worked, but he didn't stay there," Herman said. "He was back and forth the whole time. He was there for a time and he left. He was there for a time and he left. When he was there, he was effective."
Herman said the crowd of partyers, during the noon to 7 p.m. bash, migrated to Lund Court, which is not on Lantern Point, but then migrated back to Lantern Point.
Police Chief Gary MacNamara said this year's Clam Jam attracted significantly more people than last year's bash. "The crowd got quite large in and around Fairfield Beach Road and Reef Road - quite large and quite quickly...A lot of behaviors exhibited in years past were certainly exhibited again," he said. "Our officers were able to have impact with significant arrests."
MacNamara said much of Clam Jam was contained to private property and police "were able to keep the impact as minimal as possible."
"When it gets to a point where there are so many students, when it gets to such a large crowd, we have to manage it. At that point, we're managing a large crowd with arrests and ensuring when people are leaving the property, they are obeying the law," MacNamara added.
Among the arrested on Saturday was Jonathan Strong, 22, of Flushing, N.Y., who was charged with sixth-degree larceny after he allegedly tried to steal a keg of beer valued at $100 from That's the Spirit Shoppe on Fairfield Beach Road about 7:27 p.m. Strong ran off without the keg when he was confronted by an owner of the store and was arrested a short distance away, police said. He was released on a promise to appear in Bridgeport Superior Court May 9, police said.
Edward Valente, 19, of Ridgefield, N.J., was arrested for first-degree criminal trespass about 7:23 p.m. after he allegedly snuck into Lantern Point after being warned by a security guard in the past not to return. Valente was released on a promise to appear in court May 10, police said.
Dennis Gannon, 20, of Huntington, N.Y., was charged with second-degree breach of peace after he allegedly punched a patron of the Seagrape in the face about 1:30 a.m. Sunday. Gannon struck the victim as the victim was walking along Fairfield Beach Road after leaving the Seagrape, and Gannon was released on a promise to appear in court on May 10, police said.
Herman couldn't say whether residents would file a legal action that claims Saturday's Clam Jam was in violation of the injunction because she hadn't talked to all the plaintiffs. "We haven't taken that off the table," she said.
Unlike previous Clam Jams before the court injunction, Saturday's party seemed to be contained, but Herman said the goal shouldn't be containment but ensuring that the party doesn't take place. "It's growing. Last year was a year I thought would never happen. This year was a year I thought would never happen, with the amount of students that were there" she said. "I thought we had reached an agreement that the large number of parties would not take place."
Herman said Clam Jam ought to be held on Fairfield University's campus. "It's not something that should be allowed in a neighborhood, period," she said.
Martha Milcarek, a spokesman at Fairfield University, said the university, after learning a large party may take place on Saturday, sent out an e-mail to all students that informed them about the court injunction and that said students shouldn't go to Lantern Point if they didn't live at Fairfield Beach or know someone who does. She said the e-mail also mentioned events taking place on Fairfield University's campus that would give students alternative things to do.
"It is something that concerns us," Milcarek said of Clam Jam, "but, at the same time, it is not a university-sponsored event." She said students know to show up at Fairfield Beach on the weekend before final exams due to the history of the party taking place.
Milcarek said the university was not involved with enforcement at Fairfield Beach, though she added, "It's important to us that the students are good neighbors when they are living in the area."
Milcarek said it was the university's practice to review cases where students have been arrested or given infractions to determine if disciplinary action by the university is warranted. Regarding Saturday's total of 37 arrests and infractions, Milcarek said, "There will be follow-up taking place."