The organization responsible for all the festivities celebrating the return of the swallows announced Wednesday night that it will not be serving beer at the Mercado this year.
Beer has been an annual feature at the marketplace, which attracts people far and wide, opening right after the Swallows Day Parade ends. This year’s Swallows Day Parade and Mercado are scheduled for March 23.
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While the Fiesta Association’s website still announces a beer garden, the board said Wednesday at the group’s weekly meeting that beer will not be served this year, said Eric Bergstrom, Patch advertising manager who attended the meeting.
According to Bergstrom, Lt. John Meyer, chief of police services in San Juan Capistrano, had informed the Fiesta Association that alcohol could only be served between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. to keep rowdiness to a minimum.
Last year, eight people were arrested on the suspicion of public drunkeness. In addition, a restaurant was vandalized when a man broke a window at Ciao Pasta.
All this despite a larger police presence. Meyer told Patch last year: “It seemed a lot of people [in the past] were inebriated.”
Meyer told Patch Wednesday evening that he had previously met with Fiesta members to discuss the problem. Between the day's two events, as many as 40,000 people converge on San Juan Capistrano at any one time.
"With a crowd that large and when you serve a lot of alcohol, you have the potential for a lot of problems," Meyer said.
"I am very happy the Fiesta Association went along with me," he added, saying he thinks the absence of beer will make the after-parade festivities more family-friendly.
Bergstrom, who regularly serves as the emcee for the Fiesta’s annual pet parade, said beer sales constitute most of the Association’s fundraising efforts. It costs about $10,000 to sell the suds, but it brings in $18,000 in net proceeds.
Meyer said association members told him that to make the revenue they need, they need to sell beer for at least four hours.
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