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3,000 People Crash Party and Trash Riverside Park, Neighbors Say

By Gustavo Solis | August 14, 2014 2:40pm
 An out-of-control party at Riverside Park promted the response of 20 police vehicles and a police helicopter, neighbors said.
Riverside Park Party
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WEST HARLEM — They came, they Instagrammed, they partied hard.

About 3,000 people crashed a small party at Riverside Park Saturday when word of the event quickly spread through social media, according to video and a local politician.

Officers were called to break up the event about 10:30 p.m. at 145th Street and Riverside Drive after it ballooned out of control with people screaming, dancing and jumping on cars, according to neighbors.

"They (the NYPD) also had a helicopter," said local resident Gillian Rogers, a member of the Riverside Park Alliance. "It was as close to hearing a riot as I've come to."

Party-goers posted photos and videos of the event on Instagram, tagging it with the hashtag "Project X." The title refers to a movie about a high school party getting out of control.

The city Parks and Recreation Department did not authorize Saturday's party, but they did issue three permits for daytime barbecue and picnics — one ending at 6 p.m. and the other two ending at 8 p.m., spokesman Phillip Abramson said. He noted that word of the party spread through social media.

Local Councilman Mark Levine applauded the police department's response to the party.

"The local precinct handled it very well, they cut it off quickly," said Levine, who spoke with the local authorities. "They didn't come in aggressively."

Before police arrived, there was no security at the party and there were not enough trash cans or bathrooms to accommodate the crowd, the councilman added.

The NYPD did not respond to multiple requests for comment, but sources said at least two people were arrested.

Saturday's party was an outlier in recent efforts to improve quality-of-life issues around the park, Rogers said.

When she moved into the neighborhood three years ago, she'd often find large piles of trash throughout the park while she walked her dog. Her and other residents worked with the 30th Precinct, who began locking the parking lot and enforcing park rules, she said.

As the park has gotten cleaner, people have been having more and more parties, Rogers added. 

The morning after the party, members of the Riverside Park Alliance cleaned up the mess, collecting thousands of bottles, piles of trash and plastic chairs, she said.

"This is all new, this is a whole other set of people coming in," Rogers said. "I pray for rain on the weekends."