May 25, 2011

Jazz Night to continue

When two Galesburg police officers entered McGillacuddy’s around 10:30 p.m. last Thursday during Jazz Night, most in attendance just figured it was a routine ID check. But soon thereafter, it was announced that everyone under 21 would have to leave the bar, according to those involved.

Instructor of Music Nikki Malley, though she was not present during the incident, spent much of the next four days figuring out exactly what happened and how to prevent it from happening again. Early Monday, Malley expressed that she was troubled by the manner in which this came up, as Jazz Night has been a long-standing event for 21 years.

“I think it’s unfortunate that we weren’t given an opportunity to address this in a different way,” Malley said.

Associate in Applied Music David Hoffman, who was present during the incident, said that there were no instances of underage drinking found.

“It was not the most comfortable thing in the world,” Hoffman said. “Something like this has never happened in my recollection at jazz night.”

Freshman Ivan Keta, a member of the Andy Crawford Jazz Combo, was playing during the incident and was asked to leave. He said he did not suspect that something like this would happen during Jazz Night.

“It never crossed my mind,” Keta said. “Jazz Night is one of the big selling points of jazz band.” But he was confident that this event, which is “lucrative for McGillacuddy’s and for the community,” would not be put to an end.

“I didn’t think it would extend to the band members,” Cherry Street Combo member junior Sam Lewis said. “Later, we realized that even they were being kicked out … [McGillacuddy’s] was as empty as I’ve ever seen it.”

Sophomore Alicia Niles, who was in attendance, said that those who were asked to leave were not allowed to even use the patio furniture outside McGillacuddy’s, as that was considered loitering. Both Niles and Lewis mentioned that the McGillacuddy’s staff is always very good at making sure that underage drinking does not go on.

“In my work with the Admissions Department, I bring prospies to Jazz Night on a regular basis, and there are never any problems,” Niles said.

After those under 21 had all left, Cherry Street Combo member junior Josh Garties said, the combo made a decision not to play the last set.

“We didn’t want to play if they were going to restrict the venue,” Garties said, “and the McGillacuddy’s staff was understanding about it.”

According to Galesburg Chief of Police David Christensen, an anonymous call was received at 10:24 p.m. claiming that there were “underage girls drinking” at McGillacuddy’s. The two officers responded at 10:29 p.m. Since no instances of underage drinking were found, no police report was filed.

Galesburg city code stipulates, “No minor shall frequent, loiter or remain at or near a bar in any licensed premises.” Though McGillacuddy’s also serves food and is not solely a bar, its kitchen normally closes at 10 p.m., at which point it can be considered a bar.

“The intent of the ordinance is to ensure that people under 21 aren’t consuming alcoholic beverages,” Christensen said, “but the bottom line is that Jazz Night is going to go on the way it always has.”

Everyone with a connection to the jazz program mentioned that they were pleased with the amount of support the event was getting from the community after the incident. Malley mentioned that there were some conversations in the days after the incident between the city manager, the Galesburg Police Department and some concerned community members.

Later on Monday, the talks in the community had resulted in the assurance that Jazz Night will be allowed to continue as usual. McGillacuddy’s owner Scott Apodaca said that there will be a special Thursday night appetizer menu to ensure that the kitchen stays open.

“This is something that brings Galesburg and Knox together, and that’s good for the community,” Apodaca said.

What you might want to know from Galesburg city code:

Minor frequenting – Sec. 3-98.(a): No minor shall frequent, loiter, or remain at or near a bar in any licensed premises.

Restaurant definition – from Sec. 3-1: Any public place … kept, maintained, advertised and held out to the public primarily as a place where meals are served, and where meals are actually regularly served … and where the sale or consumption of alcoholic liquors is only incidental to the serving of meals. The fact that fifty (50) percent or more of the gross revenue in any month from the operation of the licensed premises is derived from the activities other than the serving of meals shall be prima facie evidence that such business is not a restaurant within the meaning of this chapter….

Bar definition – from Sec. 3-1: A counter, designed with seating or standing areas for three (3) or more persons, tended by a person who regularly delivers alcoholic liquor to patrons, for consumption at such counter.

Charlie Megenity
Charlie Megenity (formerly Gorney) is a senior double majoring in political science and economics. He previously served TKS as managing editor and as co-news editor while working as the weekend reporter for The Galesburg Register-Mail. Over the summer of 2012, Charlie interned in Wisconsin with, an online hyperlocal news source, where he covered the August 2012 Oak Creek Sikh temple shooting; he will return to Patch during the summer of 2013. He is also the journalism editor for Catch magazine.. Charlie has received three awards from the Illinois College Press Association for newswriting and design, including a first place award for front page layout. He was the 2013 recipient of the Theodore Hazen Kimble Memorial Award in Journalism for a feature story published in The Knox Student. His work has also appeared in The Huffington Post.

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