City of Carbondale preps for Polar Bear 2016

City of Carbondale preps for Polar Bear 2016

CARBONDALE, IL (KFVS) - Each year, the winter bash called "Polar Bear" returns to Carbondale, Illinois.

It's one of the biggest party weekends of the year, and is notorious for out of control parties and sometimes trips to the ER.

In 2015, there were 139 citations handed out during Polar Bear, 80 of those were for underage drinking.

City officials hope that changes to this year's party will bring those numbers down.

SIU Student Abby Niemeyer said the drinking begins at breakfast and goes all night.

"Everyone does it. It is just kind of a known thing, everyone does it," she said.

She, like many other students, know what can happen when things get too out of hand.

"It did get super rowdy. I heard some students had to be pepper-sprayed, which I think was necessary," said Niemeyer.

Which is why it will be all hands on deck for the Carbondale Police Department.

"We prepare for the worst but expect the best from everybody," Sgt. Corey Kemp.

Sergeant Corey Kemp encourages everyone to be safe including those not participating in the festivities.

"For folks driving, just be knowledgeable that this event is going on. People driving in those areas, just be knowledgeable about people crossing roads who are not on crosswalks or following the traffic signals," he said

As for the bar scene this year, 19-and-up party-goers will be able to go inside Pinch Penny.

Anthony Greff Greff manages events at the bars in Carbondale.

He hopes this move deters from house parties getting out of hand.

"The reason these house parties took off is because people under 21 needed some place to go. Whether it was legal or ethical that's just on them," said Greff.

Greff said a source for last year's issues happened at the Aspen Court Apartments, which will be closed off this year.

"Of course that is going to bring a lot of growth this weekend for business revenue," he said.

Like usual, there will also be extra staff on hand at Memorial Hospital in Carbondale.

Carbondale Mayor Mike Henry said they will be extending the hours for the Saluki Express for anyone needing a ride home.

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