Students say increased police presence didn't hinder fun day at track
According to the buzz throughout Columbia, the cops were going to ruin an otherwise-beautiful Saturday.
IDs would be checked, coolers would be searched and Natural Lights would be poured out in a Carolina Cup crackdown that would bring hundreds — if not thousands — into the Kershaw County Detention Center.
And the inhabitants of College Park, the area set aside for the youthful and party-loving crowd at Camden's annual Carolina Cup equestrian race, worried they would be forced to do the unthinkable: watch the race.
But, when Saturday came, the consensus among attendees was that the police presence was hardly more noticeable than in years past.
However, the crackdown promised by Kershaw County police may have scared some students away and encouraged better behavior by those who did attend.
"Overall it looked like there were fewer members out there than the year before, but it wasn't a significant change," said David Corso, president of Lambda Chi Alpha.
Corso noticed more police but said their approach wasn't any different. Various members of different Greek organizations echoed Corso's sentiment: more police and less attendees, but no increase in strictness of enforcement.
Neither Carolina Cup nor the Kershaw County Sheriff's Department were able to provide the number of attendees and officers at this year's event by late Sunday. The State reported 149 people were arrested in Sunday's edition.
"Personally I've worked them off and on for the past 20 years, and I thought it was one of the best ones we've had as far the crowd was concerned," said Kershaw County Deputy Chief Marvin Brown. "We really didn't do anything anymore than we had done in the past. That's what we couldn't understand, the rumors had gotten out that we would be checking the buses and coolers and this, that and the other."
Brown said the banning of "cooler carriers," the often-unlicensed merchants who attendees tip to carry their coolers into the park, started last year.
College Park patrons, however, said it was the first time they noticed the cooler carriers' absence.
Brown confirmed an increased police presence at the event and said people understand the need to combat excessive and underage drinking.
"That's the reason they made College Park was to get college kids away from the infield where the people plus the college kids could have a better time," Brown said.