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Riot Puts Sand Castle Fest In Peril Hundreds Loot Businesses In B.C. Beach Town

Associated Press

A weekend riot by 600 to 1,000 young people in this holiday beach town may cost the community its annual sand castle contest, the event president said Sunday.

Al Kaario said community leaders will discuss the Saturday night riot with police, and a possible decision would be to end the event, which brings up to 40,000 visitors to this town of 10,000.

“We’ll have to have a debriefing to see if the event will be held next year,” Kaario said as competitors went ahead and built their sandcastles on the white-sand beach.

Some rowdiness is always expected at a large summer event, but the disruption by hundreds of mostly young people who broke into and looted some 20 local businesses was the worst in the event’s 16-year history, Kaario said.

More than 100 people were arrested as police fired tear gas to disperse the crowd.

The majority were out-of-towners who don’t even participate in event functions, Kaario said.

The broken glass strewn throughout downtown and a beach-side park was cleaned up before most people got up on Sunday morning, he added.

“You wouldn’t know anything happened. Everything is cleaned up and the beach is packed,” he said.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police from the nearby Vancouver Island communities of Nanaimo, Courtenay and Port Alberni helped local police calm the disturbance.

An operator of the beach-front Island Hall Beach Resort said all alcohol activities, such as the Saturday night dance and the beer gardens, should be canceled at the festival, and that it should just be a family affair.

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