Panda Game kicks off at 12 p.m. on Saturday. Photo: Courtesy of Luke Todd
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The UOSU is hosting a tailgate, but the street party on Russell Avenue is still taking place

Every year, thousands of students attend pre-game festivities before making their way down to TD Place for the Panda Game.

This year, two massive parties are set to take place in Sandy Hill: one organized by the University of Ottawa Students’ Union (UOSU), and the other by students.

Mandated by the school after consultations with the City of Ottawa, the UOSU is throwing a tailgate in the Sandy Hill Arena parking lot. 

“The City of Ottawa approached both Carleton and the University of Ottawa to bring up a few concerns with Russell (Avenue),” said UOSU student life commissioner Jason Seguya. “Russell (Avenue) uses a lot of city resources, from the police to emergency services, but not only that it has become a huge burden for the Sandy Hill community.”

According to Seguya, the university was forced to host a proper tailgate party under threat of not receiving a special events permit for the Panda Game. 

“If no action was taken there would be no Panda Game, so the city tasked the U of O and Carleton to come up with ideas,” said Seguya. “The U of O didn’t feel comfortable hosting a drinking event like this but they wanted to provide support to the student union to do so.’’

Starting at 9 a.m., students aged 19 and older will be able to drink on-site in the parking lot. The UOSU also promises free food and drinks to those participating in the tailgate and a shuttle service will be offered to the game.

The Sandy Hill parking lot can hold up to 3,600 people, Seguya said. The UOSU originally expected between 1,200-1,500 people to show up, but their more recent estimates put that number closer to 2,500.

“Folks who are underage and bring their alcohol in will have it confiscated and they won’t be allowed to drink in the space,” said Seguya. “Since it’s city property, there will be no smoking allowed, including vaping, cannabis and cigarettes.” 

Jumping through tables will also be prohibited, Seguya said. 

Russell Avenue party still kicking

Undeterred by a projected heavy police presence, threats of a shutdown, and a rival tailgate, the Russell Avenue block party will be taking place again this year.

According to three students who live on the street, there will be a DJ, loudspeakers and sponsored parties. The students expect between 2,000-3,000 students to show up based on past turnouts. 

For those attending the Russell Avenue party, staying on private property will be critical, as carrying an opened alcoholic beverage in public is an arrestable offence. Trespassing will also be heavily monitored as Russell Avenue residents have been complaining of students trespassing on their properties.

Ottawa Police Service ready 

With break-ins and other petty crimes common during the Panda Game festivities in Sandy Hill, Ottawa police are ready to take action against students who conduct themselves in a disorderly fashion.

“The Ottawa Police and its partners want everyone to enjoy the game and their neighbourhoods and for everyone to be safe,” the OPS said in an email to the Fulcrum.

Officers will be on the lookout for unsafe activity, trespassing, and public drinking, the OPS said.

On Friday morning, police and bylaw officers took to the streets of Sandy Hill to inform residents about the upcoming parties and what to do in case they observe inappropriate behaviours.

Ottawa Police said they have been working with residents of Sandy Hill and its community association, Action Sandy Hill, in the lead up to Panda Game. 

“Multiple property owners have granted Ottawa Police authority to enforce the Trespass to Property Act on their behalf without requiring a call for service,” the OPS said. “This being said, residents are still encouraged to contact the Ottawa Police to report issues of trespassing, public nuisance or any other offence.”

Students on the fence about which party to attend 

As for students, they seem divided on which party to attend, with both gathering some interest. 

“I might go to the one the UOSU is hosting because I heard there’s gonna be free food there,” said Sameeha Gani, a third-year mechanical engineering student. “I also think they’re putting a lot of effort into planning it and I’ve seen lots of interest online.”

“I’ll be going to the block party,” said third-year mechanical engineering student Jamie Savage

“I’ll be going to both tailgates but I won’t be going to the game,” said Jeff Chan, a first-year health science student.

“Not sure if I’ll be going to either, but I think it’s cool that we have those parties especially on a Saturday morning,” said Charles Cadieux, a first-year finance student.

“I’m hoping to go to the tailgate in the parking lot, I work here at the pool and heard about it from my boss in an email,” said Mikaila Wilders a third-year international development and globalization student. 

“We’re just gonna stay at our house and do our own thing,” said Emerson Foster, a third-year mechanical engineering student.

The Panda Game kicks off at 12 p.m. on Saturday.

Photo: Matt Gergyek/Fulcrum

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