The Tonawanda News
Tonawanda News — The City of Tonawanda police made two Canal Fest related arrests over the weekend, Lt. Fredric Foels said.
A 17-year-old from Amherst was arrested Sunday at 5:40 p.m. for fifth-degree unlawful possession of marijuana. He was smoking marijuana at the event and was released on an appearance ticket.
Police also arrested Heather R. Kelly, 35, of Oliver Street, North Tonawanda, for DWI, obstruction of governmental administration, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol and five traffic charges.
She was stopped on Main Street after driving around the Canal Fest barricades, Foels said.
Kelly refused a breath test and was held for court.
Canal Fest arrests have been a hot topic since 2012, when Tonawanda officials changed the closing time to 10 p.m. from 11 p.m. on the north side of the canal.
The decision followed the 2011 fest that was tainted by a near-brawl of about 150 youths near the festival grounds one night. On another fest night in 2011, Chief of Police John Ivancic shut down the midway a half-hour early after authorities made six disorderly conduct arrests in 15 minutes.
The city hoped the change would reduce the number of arrests and improve the safety of the event. By the numbers, it did. There were just eight arrests last year — down from 29 the previous year.
But organizers of the event contested the city's decision, and said last year's fest resulted in 20 percent less profits due to the reduction in hours.
Randy Fahs, an organizer of the event, attended meetings early this year in attempt to persuade the council to move the closings back to 11 p.m. for the 2013 fest, but his efforts were futile. In April, the council voted to keep the closing time as 10 p.m. for this year's event.