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No Beer for This Year's Mercado

With strict time restrictions placed by the sheriff's department, the Fiesta Association decides to forgo the suds.

The organization responsible for all the festivities celebrating the return of the swallows announced Wednesday night that it will not be serving beer at the Mercado this year.

Beer has been an annual feature at the marketplace, which attracts people far and wide, opening right after the Swallows Day Parade ends. This year’s Swallows Day Parade and Mercado are scheduled for March 23.

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While the Fiesta Association’s website still announces a beer garden, the board said Wednesday at the group’s weekly meeting that beer will not be served this year, said Eric Bergstrom, Patch advertising manager who attended the meeting.

According to Bergstrom, Lt. John Meyer, chief of police services in San Juan Capistrano, had informed the Fiesta Association that alcohol could only be served between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. to keep rowdiness to a minimum.

Last year, eight people were arrested on the suspicion of public drunkeness. In addition, a restaurant was vandalized when a man broke a window at Ciao Pasta.

All this despite a larger police presence. Meyer told Patch last year: “It seemed a lot of people [in the past] were inebriated.” 

Meyer told Patch Wednesday evening that he had previously met with Fiesta members to discuss the problem. Between the day's two events, as many as 40,000 people converge on San Juan Capistrano at any one time.

"With a crowd that large and when you serve a lot of alcohol, you have the potential for a lot of problems," Meyer said.

"I am very happy the Fiesta Association went along with me," he added, saying he thinks the absence of beer will make the after-parade festivities more family-friendly.

Bergstrom, who regularly serves as the emcee for the Fiesta’s annual pet parade, said beer sales constitute most of the Association’s fundraising efforts. It costs about $10,000 to sell the suds, but it brings in $18,000 in net proceeds.

Meyer said association members told him that to make the revenue they need, they need to sell beer for at least four hours.

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Eric Bergstrom January 31, 2013 at 06:14 PM
@Matt, There will still be beer...and tequila...and wine...and whatever you like to drink, you'll just do so at Sarducci's, Swallows, Vitos, The Vintage Steakhouse, El Adobe, Ruby's, Rick's Cafe, Sundried Tomato, Ciao Pasta, L'Hirondelle, 5 Vines and so on. It will be good for the local businesses who have professional bartenders serving the crowds and you'll probably get your drinks quicker. What we need to worry about is how to make up the shortfall for the Fiesta Association so they can afford to keep putting on the parade. To be honest, it has been getting a little embarrassing to see the debauchery that grows as the day goes forward. I've attended a Restaurant Association meeting where the owners and managers were trading Swallow's Day horror stories of destruction and other disgusting behavior taking place on that day. The parade will go on and all will be well with San Juan.
rachel o January 31, 2013 at 06:33 PM
What is embarrassing is when our own Mayor is beat up 45 days ago and no arrests have been made. With that in mind, I can certainly see why Lt. John Meyer would find eight arrests out of forty thousand people overwhelming!
Erica Cox January 31, 2013 at 08:00 PM
Lived here over 25 years, since I was a kid, and I was not happy with the growing rowdy and drunk crowds the last few years. This is supposed to be a hometown parade with a family-friendly mercado and social event. We finally stopped going, it was embarrassing and not a good place for kids anymore. I think moving the alcohol back to the local businesses is great. I hope people can take an honest look at how the Swallow's Day events were turning into a booze-busting and unsavory event. Our family enjoyed a nice beer in the afternoon too, but it was really starting to get out of hand. The focus should be the parade, not the booze.
Dusty W Otero February 01, 2013 at 02:56 AM
Now maybe I will join the Feasta association ..I don't like meeting at the Swallows Bar,,,lets clean it up and get modern.you have plenty of beer being sold in the bars and all around ...and hard stuff and wine..I go the Vietnamese Tet Parade in Little Saigon Garden Grove ,,next few weeks ..no booze and lots of fun,,food,,and History kids all over...flowers ,,Booths..Good Idea no beer sold in Swallows day Parade..
Penny Arévalo March 07, 2013 at 03:18 AM
Hi Dotti, I had to remove your post because of the use of cussing. Sorry to be so PC, but them's the rules. Feel free to repost your sentiments, minus the curse words.

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