St. Patrick’s Day revelers accused of boozing it up on Naples sidewalks have drawn the attention of at least one city council member who called on city staff and law enforcement to crack down on the illicit drinking.
Councilwoman Dee Sulick requested staff examine the law and special-event permits for Fifth Avenue South after she heard fights broke out March 17, during the city’s annual St. Patrick’s Day parade. The parade drew thousands and ended in two alcohol-related arrests.
“I understand everyone wants to have a good time, and I’m not saying everyone is falling down on the street, but we have an ordinance and expect it to be followed,” Sulick said during a workshop on Monday.
The Naples and the Marco Island area tied for second place nationally in 2010 for its high number of heavy drinkers according to 2010 health risk data from the Centers of Disease Control and prevention. But both council members and residents said drinking is not a major problem in the city.
Those business that sold alcohol to people who wandered out the door and onto the street will be reminded that permits are required for selling alcohol outdoors before the next major event, city staff said.
“On a special occasion like that, I think that’s OK,” said Carol Michaud, 68, a season resident from Ohio who was sipping coffee Monday outside a Fifth Avenue South coffee shop. “It’s not OK to walk around with a drink today, but they were having a party.”
Her husband, Lyle Michaud, 69, said he hasn’t seen a raucous night life in Naples.
“We’re probably not the best people to talk to,” Lyle said. “We’re in the house every night by 6 p.m.”
Larry Tyrell, 67, attended the Naples St. Patrick’s Day parade last year, arriving at 8 a.m. to park, set up chairs and grab a drink.
“It was crowded, but it wasn’t unruly,” said Tyrell, a Michigan resident visiting Naples this week.
He bought alcohol at McCabe’s Irish Pub and Grill last year where crowds packed the bar from wall to wall.
“I never even paid attention to it, but I was one of them,” Tyrell said of those walking outside with drinks in hand. “It’s too crowded to drink there and have room to move.”
Councilman Sam Saad said he saw four Fifth Avenue South establishments selling alcohol in front of their store fronts to passersby. No restaurants or bars were cited for doing so, City Manager Bill Moss said.
During the workshop, Naples Police Chief Tom Weschler presented data from March 17 and last Friday, April 13, for comparison. On St. Patrick’s Day, there were 121 fire and police incidents in the city and two arrests. On Friday, there were 128 incidents and three arrests — two were DUI-related and one was drug-related.
“There’s not enough man power out there for the big events to stop it all,” Weschler said of open-container violations.