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Wrigleyville Police Commander Wants 'Zero Tolerance' for Raucous Partygoers

By Serena Dai | January 3, 2013 10:45am | Updated on January 8, 2013 6:36am
 Wrigleyville bars fill up during the Twelve Bars of Christmas, TBOX, bar crawl run by Festa Parties. More than 40,000 people attended on Dec. 15.
Wrigleyville bars fill up during the Twelve Bars of Christmas, TBOX, bar crawl run by Festa Parties. More than 40,000 people attended on Dec. 15.
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LAKEVIEW — The police commander in Wrigleyville wants to impose "zero tolerance" for partygoers who bring mayhem to residential areas after a raucous holiday pub crawl tested the police force.

"We need to do a better job of containing the idiots from going into the neighborhood," said Elias Voulgaris, commander of the Town Hall Police District, an area that regularly fills up with partygoers for Cubs games, pub crawl and concerts.

Voulgaris' "first big test" as commander was TBOX, or the Twelve Bars of Christmas, he told DNAinfo.com Chicago after a Wednesday CAPS meeting in the Town Hall District headquarters. He started in late August.

The holiday pub crawl became violent when one man allegedly stabbed another with a broken beer bottle in the bathroom of Red Ivy, 3525 N. Clark St., authorities said. Further down on Clark Street, a man landed face-first into the storefront of Chicago Comics, 3244 N. Clark St., breaking the window.

But beyond violence, neighbors at the CAPS meeting Wednesday night expressed outrage at debauchery near homes that included vomit on sidewalks and property damage caused by drunken revelers.

Voulgaris was upset too, he said. In a meeting with Festa Parties, the organizers of TBOX, he was told about 18,000 people would show up. Instead, some 40,000 people crowded bars around Clark and Addison, forcing police to barricade the street and reroute the No. 22 Clark bus. 

"Ultimate accountability is on me," he said.

Voulgaris' vision: Have more police visibility surrounding bars for big events like Cubs games, concerts like the fall Bruce Springsteen show at Wrigley Field and pub crawls like TBOX and the upcoming Festa Parties Mardi Gras-themed crawl, BeadQuest, on Feb. 16.

And to separate partygoers from neighborhood residents, he wants to impose "zero tolerance" for things like limos hanging out in alleys during concerts, peeing on sidewalks, drinking in public, aggressive panhandling—any quality of life issues are fair game.

Enforcement both on a regular basis and during big events will mostly be citations but could be arrests depending on the situation, he said. Bars need to be secure, but the neighborhood needs to be secured more, Voulgaris said.

"We want to spread the message that it is not going to be tolerated, and we'll do whatever we can in our power to show it," he said. "We want everybody to enjoy themselves. We just want them to respect the neighborhood and respect themselves."

Graham Warning, vice president of the Lake View Citizen's Council and a Southport corridor resident, said the debauchery permeated his neighborhood. Most of the partygoers are renters or from out of town, not million-dollar homeowners who have more stake in the neighborhood, Warning said. With an increasing number of entertainment events, neighbors deserve ground rules for safety and convenience, he said.

"It always takes the plane to crash to lengthen the runway," Warning said. "What will it take? Someone to die?"

Voulgaris also said he wants Festa Parties to limit ticketholders and not give out favors such as beads or cereal. But his power is limited because pub crawls are not legally bound to follow city rules. Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) said he plans to introduce  an ordinance regulating pub crawls much like parades are regulated, a plan that Mayor Rahm Emanuel has dismissed. 

Without rules for pub crawls, all Voulgaris can do for future pub crawls like BeadQuest is the same thing he did before TBOX: Ask Festa Partes to keep things in check.

"If someone higher up signs off for [a pub crawl to happen], all I can do is try to keep things safe," Voulgaris said. "Boo on me if they don't listen."

Festa did not immediately return a call for comment.