Safety focus of street party

When the annual Hyde St party takes place  next Saturday, safety will be a major focus. Photo:...
When the annual Hyde St party takes place next Saturday, safety will be a major focus. Photo: Gregor Richardson
Thousands of revellers found out on Friday night whether they had been chosen to attend Dunedin’s famous Hyde St Party, which organisers say will have tighter security this year and more food available to partygoers.

Students traditionally dress in themed gear for the party, which is limited to 3600 people and will be held next Saturday.

Registrations closed on Friday,  and students who did not live in the Hyde St area learned if they had been selected via a lottery on Friday night.

Last year 10 people trying to get into the party without tickets were arrested and across the city seven people were taken to hospital because of  intoxication or alcohol-related injuries after attending the party.

Every year, the amount of food provided for attendees was increased and security was improved, with an "abundance" of safety staff and volunteers this year,  Otago University Student’s Association (OUSA) marketing and communications manager Katrina McClennan said.

Campus watch,  police, St John, and volunteers from Are You OK? and Red Frogs support groups would be present. With a high demand for tickets, Ms McLennan said OUSA also reduced the window for registrations to decrease the likelihood of students on-selling tickets via a "black market".

Before registration closed on Friday, unique codes were given to residents in the Hyde St area, enabling them to register and invite guests.

"Our main concern with tickets being on-sold is that it negatively affects our safety model, which matches a wristband’s code to the details of the person wearing it," Ms McLennan said.

"In an ideal world, students wouldn’t sell them at all, but when you live on a shoestring budget the temptation to make money can be too much for some."

Students could watch a short documentary about the Hyde St Party  on the OUSA website —  it gave students information about ticketing, safety, and the party’s history. The event was running on a new "user-pays" model this year, making tickets more expensive, Ms McLennan said.

OUSA put the price up to $35, enabling the event to be self-funding, with no contribution from the Dunedin City Council for the clean-up and no cost for students who did not want to attend.

OUSA events manager Jason Schroeder said ratepayers should not be having to cover the cost of having the street swept after the party. He said $1 from each ticket sale would  be donated to a local charity this year. 

In the last five years, OUSA had been trying to improve safety, with what Ms McLennan described as a "significant decrease in injuries and arrests".

One Hyde St resident who did not want to be named said  he was looking forward to the party, which was part of the student experience. He and his  flatmates would be dressing up as rappers. Other students living on Hyde St declined to speak to media before the event.

OUSA denied they had been prevented from talking but said they had been told to think about the message they gave the public about the party. More information about the party is expected to be released  this week.

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