Polar Bear sees fewer citations, injuries in 2017


Sean O’Brien, of Elmwood Park, speaks on the phone while dressed as a polar bear Saturday, Jan. 28, 2017, on West Cherry Street in Carbondale. The “Polar Bear 2017” Facebook event had 1,500 marked saying they would be in attendance. (Jacob Wiegand | @jawiegandphoto)

By Bill Lukitsch

The unsanctioned drinking event known as Polar Bear saw a decrease in violations of alcohol-related citations and injuries, authorities said.

Carbondale and Illinois State police on Saturday issued a total of 91 citations to 89 people, the majority of which were alcohol related, according to a news release. The number of citations decreased from 116 issued during the event in January 2016, a drop of 27 percent.

Forty-nine of the citations were issued for underage drinking or possession of alcohol. Officers issued an additional 35 citations for drinking in public. Other recorded incidents were physical battery, excessive noise and leaving a bar with alcohol.


The majority of citations were issued on public property or at residences, and seven occurred at local bars.

Police said SIU students made up 30 of the 89 people cited. An additional 33 citations were given to students visiting from other colleges or universities, and the remaining 26 people either refused to provide information regarding student status or were not immediately identified as students.

The number of people hospitalized for alcohol-related injuries and assaults decreased by 20 from 2016.

Memorial Hospital of Carbondale treated 10 patients for emergency care during a 24-hour period that began at 8 a.m. Saturday. Four of those patients were treated for high levels of intoxication, three for injuries related to assaults and an additional three for injuries sustained while drinking, said Rosslind Rice, spokeswoman for Southern Illinois Healthcare.

Of those treated in emergency care, Rice said the vast majority were of legal age, except for two or three patients.

The decline in citations followed a trend from 2015, when 139 were issued by Carbondale and Illinois State police.

Campus editor Bill Lukitsch can be reached at 618-536-3326, [email protected] or on Twitter @lukitsbill.


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