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Tulip Festival goes dry

April 12, 2011

By Derek Gibbons, Nick Zarrelli, Brian Hubert, Marlena Diaz, and Wade Abbott

Megan McLean, 23, of Garden Square (Wade Abbott)

Visitors at Washington Park mostly agreed Tuesday with the city’s decision to restrict alcohol consumption at this year’s Tulip Festival.

Folks interviewed at dinner time by The Pine Hills blog said they understood why the city would limit drinking, but several still criticized the city’s motivation behind the ban.

Kaitlyn Scanlon, of South Lake Avenue,  attended last year and plans to attend this year. Scanlon understands why the rule was made, but believes it was for other reasons than safety.

“It’s really about the money, said Scanlon, “because they are allowing alcohol, but now they are the ones that profit from it.”

The new policy states that drinking alcoholic beverages can only occur within the limits of a beer garden after patrons obtain a wristband that requires age identification. No alcohol from outside will be allowed into the festival, and coolers will be opened and subject to inspection.

At least some people thing the new rules are connected to the parade day melee last month. Mike Guidice, 30, from the Grand Street Mansion Neighborhood said the news rules sends a message that Albany is not just a party destination.

Mike Guidice, 30, from the Grand Street Mansion Neighborhood (Wade Abbott)

“People from all over the area come here and treat the city as a drinking hole,” Guidice said. “It would be nice to bring my kids here this year and not be accosted.”

Elizabeth Clark, who lives on New Scotland Avenue thinks there is a direct correlation between the ban and Kegs and Eggs riots.

“Albany is trying to keep their image clean, I think it’s important to ban alcohol this year.”

Mayor Gerald Jennings instituted the alcohol ban to make the festival more family–friendly.

Dee McLaughlin has grown up in Albany, and has been attending the Tulip Festival since she was a little girl. At 36-years-old with a child of her own, she said she supports the new policy.McLaughlin also expects people will find a way to drink outside the beer garden.

Jason Bedard, 22, of Yates Street is all for the ban on outside of alcoholic beverages.

“I am ok with it, I live down the street,” said Bedard. “I can just drink at home and walk over. No big deal.” -30-

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