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Hope College 'May Day Crawl' canceled over liquor violations

Erin Dietzer/The Holland Sentinel • Apr 29, 2016 at 5:00 PM

HOLLAND — The annual Hope College spring party May Day Crawl has been canceled after the Holland Department of Public Safety informed organizers that the event as it is would violate the Michigan Liquor Control Commission rules and could result in felony charges for event organizers.

The event, organized and run entirely by students, involves students traveling from party to party at various student residents.

In the past, Holland police have monitored the crawl to make sure it doesn't get out of hand. However, Sgt. Dan Kender recently attended training by the LCC, where he became aware the May Day Crawl and the similar Fall Crawl met the LCC criteria of needing a liquor license, according to a letter from the HDPS to May Day Crawl organizers.

"Everyone knows you need to have a license to sell liquor," Capt. Robert Buursma of the HDPS said. "But the way that the state law is written is that it’s much more broad, more than exchanging cash for purchase. It's needed for any consideration. For example, in the case of the May Day event, students have to purchase the wristband and T-shirt to participate, so you need a liquor license."

According to the HDPS letter, The LCC typically requires an application for a one-day special liquor license, which has to be received 10 days prior to the event. With the May Day Crawl scheduled for today, getting the license in time for the event is not possible.

"Plus, each residence involved in the crawl would need its own liquor license, with each license being requested by a different nonprofit organization (the LCC does not grant these to private individuals), have the required minimum insurance bond of $1 million for liability protections and have trained servers at the event," the letter said. "Clearly, this requirement will not be met this year."

Holding the event without a liquor license would be a felony, with student organizers Kyle Marcinkus and Nicole Schmelz held liable. According to the letter, the students said they will cancel the event.

Capt. Buursma said the department appreciates trying to hold the event in a safe and responsible way, but the HDPS clearly can't knowingly permit the party to occur without the licenses.

Buursma said they have had minor issues with the May Day Crawl in the past, such as drinking in public and noise violations, but "never any significant issues."

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