Like clockwork, each year on March 17, several thousand students cram their way down a Waterloo road littered with mud, crushed cans, broken beer bottles and green-hued swag to party it up in the name of St. Patrick;  the saint, who himself never sipped a drop of green-tainted brew. 


The annual gathering draws university and college students from across the province for what promises to be a good time hanging out, dancing, showing off festive clothing, and of course the main attraction, drinking copious amounts of alcohol from every container and apparatus imaginable. 


The closure of Ezra Avenue is a city-endorsed event staffed by police, paramedics, and firefighters, in an attempt to control what will inevitably be a day of partying for the university town, whose population swells to an additional 40,000 residents during the school year. Each year, the event provokes the ire of concerned citizens worried about keeping the peace in their neighbourhoods, along with the behaviour of students who are legally able to overindulge in public drinking, something otherwise illegal any other time of the year.  


I'm drawn with curiosity to drinking in youth culture, which seems to have become a de facto right of passage during the college and university years where decisions seem to be made with an apathy towards consequence, by a youth-base eagerly seeking the acceptance of their peers, and the escape of the everyday grind of university life. 


The Who's "Teenage Wasteland" blared through the crisp spring air as I spent the day hanging out and mingling with the students that crammed shoulder to shoulder down Ezra Avenue to see what the event was like for myself. 


For the most part the Ezra Avenue festivities were "safe" and successful, with local breakfast joints surely benefitting from the hungover Irish-for-a-day's. Regardless, I still wonder what effect this culture has on the kids that are being molded through our society's incubator as the next generation of men and women who will directly influence the world we live in, and will inevitably leave behind. 


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