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How far should bar hopping March madness go?

This propped-up sign was found outside the front the entrance to Coach’s Bar and Grill on Main Street early Saturday afternoon, March 29, the day of this year’s River Falls Bar Crawl.

Police Chief Roger Leque minced no words about the March 29 downtown Bar Crawl. He wants the alcoholic event halted because it incites disruptive, sickly and dangerous behavior that most citizens and families find repugnant.

“In my opinion, this is not an event that should be supported by anyone,” Leque said. “The Bar Crawl encourages drunkenness and high-risk abusive behavior by participants.”

This year’s Bar Crawl ran from noon to 10 p.m. The event also raises money for the local Relay for Life to fight cancer.

Leque said his officers had to focus most of the day patrolling the downtown at the expense of the rest of the city. EMTs were also kept busy handling “extremely impaired participants.”

Officers reported that by mid-afternoon, intoxicated people were flocking back and forth on Main Street as they went from bar to bar.

Leque said foot patrol officers were told by discouraged and dismayed people that they were leaving the downtown, would skip seeing a movie or eating at a restaurant because of unruly large crowds and for concern about their children’s safety.

“Pedestrians from the Bar Crawl often showed little respect for passing vehicles,” Leque said, referring to one report of a mother driving with a child who had to stop suddenly for a pedestrian in the street who then “flicked the mother off as he stood in front of her vehicle.”

Nick Asper, a 2011 UW-River Falls graduate who lives in South St. Paul, is the Bar Crawl organizer. This is the fifth one and the third designed to benefit Relay for Life.

Asper said Leque has known about the latest Bar Crawl for months but admitted: “He and I will never be on the same page.”

Asper said he updates City Administrator Scot Simpson with Bar Crawl planning and that the feedback from past Bar Crawls include “no complaints.”

Asper said Saturday’s Bar Crawl ended up raising about $2,100 for Relay for Life. Another $250 was given to a local Boy Scout troop that cleaned up messes downtown Sunday morning.

Asper said he coordinates with downtown bar owners for the Bar Crawl. T-shirts sold for $10 help raise money.

Asper, who was in town for part of the Bar Crawl, said bar owners he’s talked to think it was an “extraordinary successful event.” Asper said he witnessed “no major problems” either.

He asked how different the Bar Crawl really is from city-sponsored events where downtown drinking is promoted, including River Falls Days and St. Patrick’s Day. He said on New Year’s Eve bars can stay open all night so patrons can drink and party longer.

For the complete story, see the April 3 print Journal.

To give your opinion on the March 29 River Fall Bar Crawl, go to the Journal’s Facebook page.