By Alison Northcott
One of Ryerson’s biggest back-to-school traditions, the annual parade and picnic, is sailing away from the Toronto islands this year, and relocating to Historic Fort York on Garrison Road.
This ends a 46-year tradition that has seen generations of back-to-school revellers parading south to the ferry docks, then across the water to Olympic Island for a notoriously drunken afternoon of partying.
Flipping through old issues of The Eyeopener, coverage of past parade and picnic events is pretty consistent with photos of seemingly-rowdy and intoxicated students holding up plastic beer cups and smiling drunken grins.
But RyeSAC’s vice president student life and events Cristina Ribeiro says she has no reservations about not sticking to tradition.
“The whole point is to make it bigger, better and longer because, when it’s bigger, we can have more people,” she says.
The high school student died Sept. 14, 1984 after attending Ryerson’s picinic on the islands. That year’s big party ended tragically when the 17-year-old fell off a ferry while it was docking.
Despite several students’ attempts to save him, Newmarsh drowned in the murky water. The following year, in 1985, security was stepped up but the party raged on.
RyeSAC’s frosh and orientation event organizers continue to have concerns about safety and security.
Ribeiro says the “Storm the Fort,” picnic, for example, will have “huge beer gardens,” but will also have huge numbers of security guards, marshalls, and dry marshalls to make sure things don’t get out of hand.