RCMP didn’t lay so much as a driving under the influence charge during a party organized by the Nomads, a charter of the Hells Angels, this past weekend.
The first Longest Day of the Year Party, held from Friday to Sunday, drew a few hundred people to the Watipi Lodge Campground and Teepee Village, about three kilometres north of Blackfalds.
Sgt. Patrick Webb, RCMP media relations for the southern Alberta district, said the only charge laid was a minor bylaw offence hardly worth mentioning.
Webb said extra RCMP officers were called in, a helicopter and dog unit were on stand by and shifts were changed around to ensure public safety. “We’re quite pleased that everything came off essentially without a hitch,” Webb said.
“Our whole purpose is to maintain the peace and make sure this is a safe community and that is exactly what happened over the weekend.”
Erminio “Army” Mauro, a member of the Nomads, wasn’t surprised it was a peaceful weekend.
He said they spoke to police and Lacombe County beforehand, had a liquor licence in place and even a set of rules for everyone on the site.
The rules included things like no dogs, not throwing cigarette butts on the ground and no one being able to ride or drive out of the campsite who had been drinking.
“There were no incidents and everything went well,” Mauro said.
“Everything went good. There were no fights.”
Mauro said there was a wide variety of music and games during the weekend, such as the slow race. The game tests riders’ balance, with the person able to balance and go the slowest on a motorcycle winning. He said the event went so well they would consider having another Longest Day of the Year Party next year.
At least two to three RCMP cars were stationed at the main gates of the campground throughout the weekend.
Mauro said the police didn’t give people a hard time, although he did question taxpayer money being spent on the extra RCMP officers over the weekend.
Webb couldn’t say specifically how many officers were involved this past weekend or the cost.
“We had enough resources available that we could call upon them at any time. We didn’t have to call upon them so we didn’t have to have a large number,” he said.
He said no matter what the event — be it a rock concert, a country music or rodeo event — RCMP officers will determine the appropriate amount of policing that is required. But he said this event was organized by an “outlaw motorcycle gang.”
“We make no bones about it they are a criminal organization. They associate themselves individually and verbally with clubs that are out of other parts of Canada that have done major serious, violent criminal acts. If you associate that way then you are claiming that association directly,” Webb said. “But this weekend it was a group getting together and enjoying what sunshine there was and we’re fine with that. Just don’t commit any criminal acts and we’ll be happy.”
Even though RCMP officers didn’t do a lot of enforcement they were gathering intelligence information they’ll use in the future, with officers at certain points openly snapping pictures as people left the grounds. “For me to tell you we didn’t gather any intelligence this weekend would be foolish because some of the job is to know who is involved and what are they doing and who are they doing it with,” Webb said.
The campsite didn’t look much different on Sunday than it did on Friday. The grounds were clean and there wasn’t any noticeable damage. People were taking down their tents, packing up trailers and tearing down the stage. A brown llama in a fenced in enclosure at the entrance to the campsite chewed on its cud as it watched the activity.
Money raised at the event will go to the Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation, with the Nomads planning to give the empty bottles to the Boy Scouts as a fundraiser.