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[Update] Significant Arrests, Upset Residents in Clam Jam's Wake

Estimates Put Crowd of Partygoers at 1,500

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."

Harry Hearthrob May 02, 2011 at 05:55 PM
Ms. Herman should take a weekend vacation during the Clam Jam. Problem solved. She seems to think she owns from the Post Road to the LIE.
Jump off May 02, 2011 at 07:14 PM
Don't move to an area where you know it's a college town and that events like this will take place no matter what it takes for the students who are looking to have a Good time before graduation and when the weather is nice.
tom May 02, 2011 at 11:47 PM
I still don't understand how Clam Jam negatively affects the residents in and around. Its a daytime event contained in private property. It ends before it gets dark and the worst that happens is a few littered cups and several citations for open containers. There are no violent crimes that occur. The only people that should worry are the property owners in the area, and the students themselves. The students have proved time and time again that we can safely and successfully continue this tradition. I talked to several police officers that day who agreed with me fully and understood how ridiculous the court injunction is.
A reader May 03, 2011 at 12:15 AM
Same Dennis Gannon? http://fairfield.patch.com/articles/fairfield-man-threatens-to-kill-ex-girlfriends-father-after-accidentally-dialing-911
Nutster May 03, 2011 at 12:30 AM
You can't stop college kids from partying. Rather than trying to have them all sent to jail, why not work together and have a one-day party on the beach, where transportation and crowd control could be organized. You could even charge a couple bucks admission and make some $ for your association. The various sanctioned festivals in the beach parking areas are just as full of underage rowdy drunks, they're just not close enough to the beach association for them to care about.
stag pride May 03, 2011 at 03:01 AM
I dont understand why the event is a problem. No one gets hurt, it takes place once a year, and the seniors deserve this after four years of hard work. Clam Jam isnt going anywhere so I would just get used to it.
fairfield beach resident May 03, 2011 at 04:44 AM
lets just get over this, it didnt cause us any harm and theyre just having fun. honestly neighbors, get over it, if you dont want this kind of thing dont move to the beach in a town with a college.
Sandy V. May 03, 2011 at 02:16 PM
No one looks forward to the Clam Jam more than Paige Herman. She makes a big stink about nothing and gets to see her name in the paper. Year after year. Nothing to see here, move on.
Faith May 03, 2011 at 02:58 PM
Why don't the Lantern Point renters hire several Fairfield police officers for traffic control as others do at large parties in town. This way if things get out of control the police officers are responsible. It's a win/win, the town gets paid for supplying police which they end up doing anyway for free. The only possible downside is for those who plan to attend and break the law.
Proud FU Alum May 04, 2011 at 01:35 PM
Graduated ten years ago, plenty of time for Paige to sell her house but if she moved to a quiet boring community what would she complain about? Most year around beach residents are great and pretty understanding, but certain reporters know they can go the same old crew to get quotes which will only serve to make the situation worse when there is barely a situation...at least compared to what it used to be. I mean 1500 kids, come on now, that was a normal spring Saturday night when I was there!
maryHelen Melnick May 04, 2011 at 01:50 PM
I've seen and read over the years the comments of the students who live at the beach about their famous clam jam and frankly I really find it very offensive how the atitudes of the students are about the clam jam. Instead of telling this one certain person to move why not move the clam jam to another beach or better yet on campus. the Fairfield beach assoication looks out for thier residents and since none of you students are taxpayers I really do not think you even have the right to object to residents complaining about the clam jam.As I told my children as they went off to college. go have fun and study hard but remember you are guests in the town where you are attending school and don't make the residents of that town sorry you came.No one has to put up with drunk students going ot the bathroom on their lawn. NO ONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
maryHelen Melnick May 04, 2011 at 01:57 PM
I at one time worked at the fairfield university bookstore and was amazed at how many things get stolen form the bookstore. this got me thinking. In order to attend this school you have to have very good test scores and be in the top half of your class. This is also a catholic university and what ever happened to thou shall not steal? I hope things have improved since I last worked there.
Bacs May 04, 2011 at 03:34 PM
It is obvious that most of the positive comments on here are coming from Fairfield U Students. For the most part, I'll say that most of you are fairly in control through most of the school year but I also feel that a lot of you are completely disrespectful toward the residents that live there permenantly. Of course it's easy to have no respect when mommy and daddy pay your rent but seriously, get over yourself. A lot of us work really hard to keep our homes nice and are tired of finding broken bottles and garbage all over our front lawns. Not to mention, you standing outside on a Tuesday night SCREAMING, when the rest of us get up and go to work in the morning. How ignorant can you be to say we should move elsewhere when a lot of the permanent residents have lived here long before you brats were even born.
Ninny May 04, 2011 at 07:20 PM
It seems to me that the bias of this article, as well as many of the angry comments, are coming from the permanent residents of Fairfield. I'd like to take the time here to point out that yes, I am a student; however, my parents are both alumni of the University. As far as THEY'RE concerned, in the 30 years since they've been attending and living at the beach, not much has changed. If you so much as chose to live anywhere south of Rowland and south of College Court, you cannot honestly tell me that you expect anything different from the Senior beach residents at Lantern Point. The biggest problem here is that the 40+ year old residents in this area have forgotten what it was like to be young, so much so that they're calling and complaining and taking time out of their VERY busy days to sit here and write comments trashing the 22 year olds that they once were. Mary Helen, go visit your children at college; they'll be doing no different than what you witnessed on Saturday. WE pay the rent 9 months out of the year to Lantern Point. It is OUR private property for those 9 months and what we chose to do in that space is our business. We are told we are allowed to drink and have fun and frankly, it's been going on for years. The influx of campus students is not our issue. And Bacs, next time you call us brats, talk to your neighbors that are also our landlords. I'm sure they'd be QUITE disgruntled to lose the 50,000+ they milk out of our parents each year for renting their homes.
Bob Dolan May 04, 2011 at 11:50 PM
Only an idiot would purchase a home near Lantern Point and try to live there as a year round resident. I lived at Lantern Point 20 years ago as a FU student and was respectful of my neighbors. I have been a tax paying citizen of Fairfield ever since. Tell the party poopers to move out if they don't like it. Oh yeah, their house is worth 25% less than it was 7 years ago...so is mine...tough, get over it!
maryHelen Melnick May 30, 2011 at 06:45 PM
Dear Ninny; first let me tell one thing YOUR not a taxpayer so to tell the rest of us that we forgot what it was like to be young is not fair but really insulting at that. the taxpayers have the say over anytype of renter since they taxpayers own the land they are paying taxes on. Yes I visited my children at college and yes they had fun in a respectful way too. as I said I told them to have fun but do not make the residents of that town sorry you are there. this is the problem with the university students they feel that since they rent they can do as they please when and how they please and one one should ever call the police on them for anything.the residents of Fairfield beach are there for good .but Fairfield university is not the only college around and if the students do not like how the residents feel the they shoulde either look to living on campus or apply to another college. the resident DO NOT have to put up with the students that are problems and it not a case where the resident forgot about being young.

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