Bars and businesses in downtown Flagstaff and Southside are taking every precaution for the pre-dawn binge-drinking event known as Tequila Sunrise this Saturday.
They are hoping they have found the right formula that last year resulted in a relatively tame affair with just five arrests.
More than a dozen bars will open at 6 a.m., letting more than a thousand Northern Arizona University students, alumni and visitors drink up while the sun goes up before the university’s homecoming parade and football game later in the day. The university has no affiliation with the pub crawl.
The drop in arrests at last year’s Tequila Sunrise has not caused Flagstaff Police to be any less vigilant when it comes to security.
Extra officers will patrol downtown, Southside entertainment area and the Fountaine-Franklin corridor at the student housing complexes. Last year two dozen officers were assigned to police the event along with agents from the Arizona Department of Liquor.
“Generally we see underage consumption of alcohol, medical emergency calls, disorderly conduct, assault and possession of fake IDs,” FPD Spokesman Sgt. Cory Runge said about the most common police concerns at Tequila Sunrise.
Police will also be looking for bars that are serving minors as well as nuisance parties in student housing complexes.
Police made five arrests last year for underage drinking, public urination and trespassing. One nuisance party warning was issued last year but no citations. It was a far cry from the 41 arrests made in 2015.
The Flagstaff Fire Department responded to seven medical emergencies last year, with five being alcohol-related.
Police used emergency street closures near the intersection of North Leroux Street and Aspen Avenue last year and in 2015 to protect the pub crawlers, who were spilling off the sidewalks. Runge said “no traffic is expected to be blocked off” this year.
Flagstaff Downtown Business Alliance Executive Director Terry Madeksza said the alliance’s main goal was to “keep downtown clean and welcoming to visitors whether they are there for Tequila Sunrise or not.”
Madeksza said they planned to use the same approach as last year, with businesses renting enough portable toilets to limit public urination and hiring trash pickup crews.
NAU will help reduce downtown traffic by having on-campus events starting at 8 a.m. and continuing to host the homecoming parade on campus at 11 a.m. The parade formerly started downtown while the pub crawlers were still drinking in the streets.
“A lot of it is about moving activities so our students will stay on campus, NAU Spokeswoman Kimberly Ott said.
Bars downtown will also be adding extra security to kick out rowdy patrons and prevent underage drinkers from entering.
“We are full staff at the bar and with our security. It is all hands on deck,” Green Room Bar Manager Tyler Arkin said.
Rendezvous Bartender Molly Wood said the bar would also have extra security.
Downtown business owners said last year’s Tequila Sunrise seemed tamer and more spread out.
“With Maloney’s and Dorado’s closing and the Mayor opening (in Southside), we felt like the crowd really opened up and Tequila Sunrise was easier to manage,” Madeksza said. “We are hoping for the same situation this year.”
Wood, who worked Tequila Sunrise last year, said “everyone seemed better behaved and more aware of how to act.”
The Lumberjacks are coming home this weekend.
NAU’s annual homecoming celebration started earlier this week for alumni and current students with a banquet Tuesday evening for this year’s homecoming dedicatee, Judy Manor. This year’s theme is “Home is Where the Lumberjacks Are.”
Students start the extended Homecoming Weekend on Thursday evening with a Traditions celebration on South Campus that includes a beard-growing contest and a pep rally and bonfire.
Friday, NAU alumni will start arriving for the weekend festivities, starting with the Blue and Gold Reunion of the Class of 1977 luncheon for alumni at 11:30 a.m. at the High Country Conference Center.
Friday’s festivities also include a book signing at 3 p.m. at the NAU Book Store with NAU alumna Lisa Schnebly Heidinger and her father, Larry Schnebly, for her book “The Journal of Sedona Schnebly.”
All supporters of the blue and gold are welcome to attend the downtown pep rally at Heritage Square Friday evening. Starting at 4:45 p.m. the NAU marching band and Louie, the Lumberjack will lead Lumberjack fans from Flagstaff City Hall through the streets to Heritage Square for the pep rally at 5 p.m.
Alumni are welcome to attend the Café au Louie alumni breakfast starting at 9 a.m. Saturday at the 1899 Bar & Grill before heading out to the parade route. The buffet breakfast is $10 a person and a cash bar is available. Alumni should RSVP through the NAU homecoming website.
The parade starts at 11 a.m. Saturday near the 1899 Bar & Grill, runs along DuPont Avenue, then down South Beaver Street where it makes a turn at Peterson Hall onto McCreary Drive and ends at Cline Library. Parking and shuttle bus service on campus is free Saturday and Mountain Line is offering free bus service to the public on Routes 10 and 10A all day.
Route 10 connects the Woodlands Village and downtown Flagstaff areas via the NAU campus. However, the routes will be detoured off campus during the homecoming parade. According to the Northern Arizona Intergovernmental Public Transportation Authority, the detour will begin at approximately 8 a.m. and the regular route will resume at 1 p.m. During the detour, buses will deviate off the Beaver Street and use San Francisco Street as an alternate. Stops 3 & 18 (Bio Science), 4 (Gillenwater Hall) and 17 (Bookstore) will be closed. Temporary stops in both directions will be set up at San Francisco Street and Mountain View Road and at San Francisco Street and Franklin Avenue.
Due to anticipated heavy traffic in Flagstaff related to Homecoming festivities, all Mountain Line riders are encouraged to use the free FLGRide real time arrival app or texting service to see buses in real time and receive up-to-date bus arrival information.
Stay on campus to watch the volleyball team take on Portland State at the Rolle Activity Center at noon. Then check out the MakerLab Open House at Cline Library from 1 to 3 p.m. and watch a 3D printer at work. The library is also featuring an photography exhibit by NAU alumna Sue Bennett.
The pre-game tailgate party for the big game starts at 1 p.m. in the Skydome parking lot. Then NAU, sitting all alone in first place in the Big Sky Conference, takes on Sacramento State at 4 p.m. at the Walkup SkyDome.
Mountain Line is encouraging game-goers to avoid traffic and parking hassles by taking the bus. The Walkup Skydome can be easily accessed via routes 4, 14, and 10.
The Flagstaff City Council wants to see what it would take to implement city-issued identification cards that could be used for things like accessing municipal services, renting library books, opening a bank account and dealing with police.
The ID cards wouldn’t take the place of state and federal identification verification like a driver’s license or passport. Instead, it would be a secondary form of identification available to city residents, including those who may have trouble getting a state-issued driver’s license due to barriers like immigration status, incarceration history or homelessness.
On Tuesday night, City Manager Josh Copley presented council with a version of a simple municipal ID card that city staff could create and implement “in a fairly short period of time.” It would have a person’s name, address and photo and would allow the holder to open accounts for city water, trash and sewer services, prove residency at parks and recreation facilities and get a library card.
Applicants would be required to provide only minimal identifying information for that type of card, and its uses would be limited to city services, Copley said.
But several members of council said they want to go further with a municipal identification card, making it something that displays more information and could be used for a broader range of purposes.
They referenced the identification card that the city of Phoenix is working to roll out. Approved by city council last year, the card will help users access city services, report crimes, open a bank account and visit their children’s schools, according to supporters.
Cards were supposed to be issued Feb.1, but the process has been on hold recently to address concerns about data storage of cardholder information and use of the card as a form of identification in interactions with city police, Phoenix city spokesman Nick Valenzuela wrote in an email.
Councilmember Eva Putzova said she would like to see a Flagstaff ID card that could be useful for city services but also acceptable for interactions with city police.
“I want people to feel encouraged and safe to report a crime, not feeling like if they do that they will get into contact with police and with that interaction will get to the (heads of) ICE,” said Putzova, referring to the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency.
Copley clarified that people who are victims of crimes, witness a crime or file a complaint against an officer are asked to provide identification but are not required to do so. But several councilmembers said people feel compelled to provide identification in that type of situation, which could deter some from reporting a crime or speaking to police if they lack an official ID.
Mayor Coral Evans indicated she would like to see an ID card that could be used to open a bank account. One local bank told her they would consider an ID card similar to the one being proposed by Phoenix as an acceptable form of identification to open an account.
Copley said an ID card like Phoenix’s would take longer to implement and would require more vetting. He said he will present a budget for making the ID cards, an outline for how an application process would work and options for acceptable forms of validating information at a future meeting.
Two members of the public who spoke during Tuesday’s council meeting encouraged the city to create an ID that would have an expanded range of uses.
“I’m wondering if we can't look a little further in terms of how the card can be used,” Sarah Wilce said. Wilce said she was hoping for a municipal ID that would help people whose circumstances prevent them from getting other identification so they could complete tasks like cashing a check, renting an apartment, registering their children for school and reporting crimes or filing complaints when they need to.
In New York City, for example, municipal ID cards are a recognized form of identification for interacting with the New York Police Department. San Francisco’s ID cards work as public library cards and serve as a form of identification to open a checking account at participating banks.
Copley said that putting more information on an ID card and collecting that information from applicants does come with challenges. Those include a greater risk of identity theft and a concern that more of people’s personal information, including that of undocumented immigrants, could be requested or subpoenaed by federal agencies, said Caleb Blaschke, assistant to the city manager.
Anything more than a name, address and photo on such a card "just ups that standard and creates more challenges for being able to get the card issued," Copley said.
He said some municipalities have chosen to partner with a nonprofit in their ID card programs so that entity issues the card and wouldn’t be required to respond to a federal request for cardholder information.
Copley also noted past attempts by state legislators to pass bills that would prohibit municipalities and counties from starting ID card programs unless their screening standards are as stringent as those for state driver’s licenses. Those bills were voted down in last year’s legislative session.
Two councilmembers expressed reservations about the ID card program.
Scott Overton pointed to the challenges that have confronted Phoenix, as well as the legislative proposals to block local ID programs, and said he wasn’t sure he wants to spend staff time and energy on a program that isn’t going to get through state legislative roadblocks. With time constraints already facing staff, Overton said he isn’t sure this program rises to “that level of demand at this time."
Charlie Odegaard also brought up the liability that the city would take on with an ID card program.
“If we go down a path of making this ID card more meaningful than municipal services, we're going to have to take ownership of this,” Odegaard said. “It’s going to be, I believe, a very costly ownership.”