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Police detail infractions at raucous Fairfield University students’ SantaCon party

Penfield Beach in Fairfield received heavy foot traffic this weekend after Fairfield University students hosted a holiday day-party on Saturday.

Angelica Toruno and Robyn Karashik

Dec 11, 2023, 5:33 PM

Updated 218 days ago


Penfield Beach in Fairfield received heavy foot traffic this weekend when Fairfield University students hosted a holiday day-party on Saturday.
Hundreds of SantaCon partiers lined the shore and beach homes that house Fairfield University students. Attendees left a trail of litter and waste on the beach, which was subsequently cleaned up by Fairfield residents.
Aside from littering, the amount of people at the beach was another concern for residents who News 12's Angelica Toruno spoke with on Sunday.
Fairfield University said in the following statement yesterday that it “prioritizes the health, safety and wellbeing of our students and fostering a safe community, through strong partnerships with the Town of Fairfield and Fairfield Police and Fire Departments.”
Fairfield University Vice President of Marketing and Communications Jennifer Anderson put out an updated statement on Monday:
Fairfield University students living on Lantern Point independently host events throughout the year, including SantaCon party, which was held on Dec. 9. In anticipation, the University worked with the Lantern Point Association, and Fairfield Police and Fire officials to hire appropriate staffing to help minimize community impact in the area. As a matter of standard practice, the University will conduct debrief meetings with the town, fire and police officials to analyze the event and discuss how to work together to address any community concerns."
Police said, given the history of how events like SantaCon usually play out at this beach, it was handled as best as it could be. They said to contain an event as big as this, they would need more personnel to lend, but tried the best they could to make sure everyone – including police officers – remained safe.
Fairfield Police Lt. Edward Nook released a statement regarding their preparedness for the party:
The Police department developed an operational plan to strategically position personnel at key locations, however, the size of this event does limit the police officers’ ability to address all of the co-occurring issues, which are primarily EMS calls for intoxication. Other common issues are trespassing, public urination, and open container violations. We issue as many citations as we can, but the amount of time it takes to issue each citation means several other issues occur while the issuing officer is occupied.
While this event remains a disruptive and frustrating situation to many, we learn and adjust every year to try to adapt and improve each time. We have created avenues to ensure all stakeholders have the ability to be heard and work with us to adjust our approaches.
Police also released information on incidents they dealt with because of the party:
  • 6 infractions for open containers.
  • 5 infractions for creating a public disturbance.
  • 2 misdemeanor summons for disorderly conduct.
  • 1 full custody arrests for trespassing.
  • 15 transported to the hospital for intoxication.
  • 2 transported to the hospital for injuries.
First Selectman Bill Gerber said that he was there around the time of the party and found the crowd was a cause for concern. He plans to dig deeper.

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