Police will target the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse area for next year’s Oktoberfest after a rowdy mob Saturday afternoon flipped a car and flung around a roadkill squirrel.
Making no effort to conceal open beers from police, hundreds of drunken festers swarmed Vine Street between Ninth Street and West Avenue, tossing glass bottles and a squirrel carcass before overturning the car later in the evening.
“This is a typical flash-point incident created senselessly,” La Crosse police Capt. Jason Melby said. “This is not acceptable behavior.”
The crowd dissipated as police moved in, leaving yards and streets strewn with litter in its wake.
Investigators want the public’s help identifying those responsible for flipping the parked car at 13th and Vine streets twice about 10:30 p.m. and jumping on two others.
“This is another example of people victimized by irresponsible behavior,” Melby said.
Police plan to work with the community, UW-L and students to prevent a repeat during next year’s Oktoberfest.
Tri-State paramedics plan to station a bike team and ambulance in the area next year after handling at least 11 calls there, Director of Operations Tom Tornstrom said.
It’s the first year that problems elsewhere in the city upstaged those at the Maple Leaf parade — estimated to bring between 100,000 and 150,000 people — and downtown.
Officials otherwise report a predictably busy weekend void of other serious incidents.
Officers issued more than 100 alcohol-related citations, most for underage drinking. At least four people were taken for detoxification and a drunken driver pulling out of a downtown parking ramp sideswiped a pedestrian.
Paramedics logged 204 extra hours from 6 a.m. Friday to 6 a.m. Sunday, with at least half of the 54 ambulance requests being alcohol related, Tornstrom said.
The La Crosse Fire Department handled 40 calls Saturday, compared with 12 to 14 on a normal day, with most needing medical attention, Division Chief Mike Jorgenson said.
Paramedics and firefighters also helped revive a man who went into cardiac arrest at Saturday’s parade.
Statistics aren’t available yet for traffic at the Third Street Aid Station, but hundreds are thought to have visited the temporary site on Pearl Street. Cellphone chargers and cab requests were most in demand.
New and popular this year were free bus rides shuttling fest-goers out of downtown to La Crosse and Onalaska hotels.
“They were an excellent resource to get people home,” Melby said.