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Ogdensburg police urge safe, fun Seaway Festival

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OGDENSBURG - City police will take a patient approach to ensuring crowd safety during the Ogdensburg International Seaway Festival that begins this weekend, but plan to enforce a no tolerance policy when it comes to reigning in troublemakers.

“We typically run into a half a dozen troublemakers, and we try to take care of that quickly,” said Ogdensburg Police Chief Richard J. Polniak Jr.

The Seaway Festival in Ogdensburg began on Friday and will continue through July 27, culminating with a large fireworks display at the City Greenbelt. Mr. Polniak said crowd control is a major concern during the entire festival, but especially during the fireworks and the festival parade. Both events routinely draw thousand of visitors from throughout the north country and parts of Canada.

During the festival, city police will have all available officers on duty, according to Mr. Polniak.

Mr. Polniak, an Ogdensburg native, said he grew up as a child enjoying the Seaway Festival, and understands the event’s importance to the city and north country.

However, he said those visiting the city also have to understand that safety is a top concern, especially with such a large number of people expected to attend a variety of events and venues.

“With the large crowd of pedestrians, motorists should pay extra attention to keeping their speed down,” Mr. Polniak said. “We’re not out to stop anyone from having a good time, but we typically run into a few arrests.”

Rules that Seaway Festival patrons can expect to follow, according to Mr. Polniak, include no bicycles during fireworks night, no dogs, no glass containers and no personal fireworks.

“Keeping dogs at home solves a lot of problems. Honestly we can’t strictly enforce it,” he said.

In past years, Mr. Polniak said there have been issues with underage drinking, and the occasional group of rowdies that can go hand in hand.

“Over intoxication. A few fights. That’s typically it,” Mr. Polniak said.

As part of crowd safety and control efforts, city officials are also warning residents not to reserve city-owned property along Ford Street during the Seaway Festival Parade July 26.

In a statement issued by city officials and posted on its website, Seaway Festival revelers are asked to not place chairs, fencing or vehicles along city-owned property prior to the day of any major celebration.

“City staff will remove any such items from city-owned property up to 6 p.m. the evening before the Seaway Festival Parade. Property removed will be temporarily stored and disposed of if not claimed within 14 days of the parade date,” the city’s statement.

The release said keeping patrons off city property along the parade route will allow city staff to maintain the property safely without obstructions.

For more information about what is allowed on city property during the festival, call Ogdensburg Parks and Recreation Director Matt Curatolo at 393-1980.

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