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UPDATE: Brawl disrupts end of Canada Day celebration

Families were peacefully enjoying the McLeod Park Canada Day celebration Monday. But once darkness fell, drunken rowdies got into a brawl that saw Langley RCMP call in assistance from Surrey. - Dan Ferguson/Langley Times
Families were peacefully enjoying the McLeod Park Canada Day celebration Monday. But once darkness fell, drunken rowdies got into a brawl that saw Langley RCMP call in assistance from Surrey.
— image credit: Dan Ferguson/Langley Times

A drunken brawl involving around 100 people at McLeod Athletic Park disrupted what had been a hugely successful Langley Canada Day event on Monday evening.

Police and other emergency officials were called in as about 100 young people, many of whom were drunk, became involved in a series of altercations just before the fireworks were set to go off. Those in attendance were wondering what the problem was, and some people left early because of the difficulties.

The fireworks display that ends Canada Day was set off, but was delayed because of the brawl and subsequent police action. Langley RCMP called Surrey RCMP in for backup, due to the number of people involved.

Officers arrived to find several individuals already handcuffed, however there was still a fair number of individuals yelling, swearing and fighting, said Langley RCMP Cpl. Holly Marks.

“Officers were jumping from one fight to another,” said Marks.

Several intoxicated people were put in cells at the Langley detachment and spent the night sobering up.

Most of these individuals were known to police, said Marks.

Some of the involved combatants sustained minor injuries, however given the number of people involved, nobody was badly hurt. Other than a set of broken glasses, no officers were injured during the fracas, said Marks. However, she said police don’t anticipate laying any charges from the melee. It was too difficult with the large number of people involved.

There is no beer garden at the festivities and organizers had security at the two gates from opening until closing, checking people’s bags and confiscating liquor if there was any.

The celebration was fenced off on all sides for added security.

Marks said police aren’t aware of how these brawlers arrived, or whether they attended already drunk or snuck alcohol in. She didn’t have reports of whether police were dumping out or confiscating alcohol. She said Langley RCMP had a command unit set up inside the festivities all day as well as auxiliary police and general duty officers working there.

Langley’s Supt. Derek Cooke attended the celebration with his family but quickly became involved as an officer and assisted the uniformed police with arrests.

“A number of families left in advance of the fireworks to avoid the situation.  It’s unfortunate that there are a number of youth whose behaviour spoiled what should be a family event.”

Langley Canada Day organizing committee chair Travis Strain said his group will plan on debriefing with the police and fixing whatever needs to be fixed to keep the event a safe environment for families.

“At the end of the day, we want this to be a safe, family event so we will do whatever it takes to make sure that happens,” said Strain.

He had heard there was a few young men who arrived for the evening with the intent on starting fights.

“It’s unfortunate these people ruined that portion of the event for everyone else,” he said. He has spoken with security, and they said they dumped out very little to no liquor, indicating many were aware of the no alcohol rules. A portion of the fence was cut and Strain himself found it and sat there for two hours to make sure no one breached that spot.

“It’s hard to say if that is where they came from,” he said.

Strain has been heading the committee for three years and in that time only one small fight has taken place.

More than 45,000 people took in the Langley festivities this year. The main stage and the local talent was a big hit, he said. The dog show, as per usual, also proved popular. Many people have been messaging on social media how much fun they had at Canada Day.

There were no problems at the Canada Day festivities in Cloverdale which saw around 75,000 people attend. There were also Canada Day events at Fort Langley.

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