Mifflin boasts 25,000 attendees

by Joanna Salmen

City Editor

Despite an inclement weather forecast and the four-keg limit per house set by Madison police for the 35th annual Mifflin Street Block Party, few of the 25,000 attendees went thirsty Saturday.

Few houses obeyed the keg limit, with one house boasting more than 50 kegs. According to City Council President Mike Verveer, no houses on the 400 and 500 blocks of Mifflin Street were issued citations for exceeding the four-keg regulation.

“The keg limit was not something that was emphasized,” said Verveer, who attended many of the police meetings preceding the party.

This year’s party was considerably smaller than last year’s when about 35,000 people attended. Many attributed the decreased size to the weather forecast, which called for rain.

“It turned out to be a great day,” University of Wisconsin sophomore Kim Stenklyft said. “A lot of my friends from out of town decided not to come because they didn’t want to risk being stuck outside in the rain.”

The weather, however, turned out to better than expected, much like the improved behavior of students from previous years.

Verveer said the only house party overtaken by police was located on the corner of Bassett and Mifflin Streets and was the result of women exposing themselves to the crowds below.

According to eyewitnesses, a disc jockey from WJJO was encouraging women on a third floor balcony to expose themselves. Police who witnessed the incident immediately responded and made everyone inside vacate the house. According to Verveer, residents and partygoers were granted permission to re-enter the house shortly after, and no citations were issued.

Many students at the event noted the police were much stricter in the beginning of the day but relaxed as the day continued.

According to Verveer, the police decided to enforce violations in stages. During the early hours of the day, police were in phase one, where they implemented a zero tolerance policy. People with open containers on Mifflin or caught carrying glass bottles or cups were promptly handcuffed and taken to the City County Building where they were issued citations.

Stenklyft was one of the unfortunate victims of phase one. While relaxing with a glass bottle of beer outside a friend’s house, Stenklyft was approached by police and arrested.

“They put me in plastic handcuffs,” she said. “They hurt they were so tight.”

Police then escorted Stenklyft to an alley in the area along with a few others who had just been arrested.

“They searched all of us and put everything into a plastic bag,” he said.

The arrested were then loaded into a van and taken to the City County Building.

“They took us to a parking garage where they had a bunch of chairs lined up for us,” Stenklyft said, adding that when she arrived, there were already about 10 others waiting to receive citations. Stenklyft had her fingerprints and photograph taken and was issued a ticket for her violation by one of the 15 officers running the operation.

Afterward, Stenklyft said police told them they could return to the party.

“We ran back to Mifflin to get more beer,” Stenklyft said of her and her fellow outlaws’ actions after being released.

Approximately 190 people were arrested at the day’s gathering, a number larger than last year, due in large part to the effective system the police constructed prior to the event. A number of police vans were on hand to transport arrested block partygoers to the City County Building where a table was set up to issue tickets.

Verveer said most of the 226 citations were issued for violating the glass ban or for open containers and public urination. Fines ranged from $102 for possessing glass containers and up to $350 for false identification. No one was arrested or fined solely for drinking underage.

Less than 10 people were taken to the Dane County Jail and issued misdemeanors at the event, significantly less than last year’s number.

The most serious incident occurred when Benjamin P. Miller, an 18-year-old from Wautoma, allegedly attacked Madison police officer Rogelio Herrera after Miller was told to dispose of an open intoxicant at about 10 p.m. Others were brought to the Dane County Jail for reasons such as obstructing an officer by lying or running away from police.

Charges were less serious than last year Verveer said, adding there were no sexual assaults or battery charges as there were in previous years.

There was also a decline in serious injuries, as ambulances were on hand to transport injured people to local hospitals.

As usual, detox centers were filled to maximum capacity by mid-afternoon, and those who were dangerously intoxicated thereafter were taken to local hospital emergency rooms.

Police successfully cleared the streets of Mifflin and reopened them to traffic by around 11:30 p.m.

Verveer said police were happy with the outcome of the event.

“Police were quite pleased there were no serious injuries or property damage,” Verveer said. “They were happy they did not have to use the riot gear.”

Sunday morning, the Mifflin Street Co-op hosted its annual cleanup of the previous day’s festivities.

“All in all, I think the 35th annual Mifflin Street block party was a success,” Verveer said.