San Jose’s Mardis Gras “Fat Tuesday” Celebration turned up few arrests
SAN JOSE, Calif, – Mardi Gras’ “Fat Tuesday” saw smaller crowds during downtown celebrations. Many party revelers enjoyed a large meal with brisket and all the fixings. One partygoer said, “I had a large helping of pot roast and a couple of beers”. A Security employee at the Old Wagon Saloon located at 73 N San Pedro Street in San Jose, Mathew Austin said, “This is like a college bar and most of them are like regulars.” Working as a part time Bouncer/ Security professional Austin said, “The bar is open every day until two o’clock when we close the door”. Austin said, “We serve food here until 12:30 PM on the weekends”.
During the celebrations with only one security employee normally scheduled to work on Tuesdays, six reported for work. Many patrons who entered the bar were between 28 to 30 years old. “We don’t see a lot of people around 21 through their 30s,” Austin said. There are a few people every weekend who try and show fake ID’s to get into a bar. But with a trained eye, teens trying to pass themselves off as Florida residents over the age of 21 were easily spotted and sent on their way.
Crime reported in the past has included stabbings, shootings and a recent reporting of a stabbing death on Feb 25, when Ryan Viri, who was a bouncer for local clubs in the downtown area, followed a patron from the Johnny V’s located at 31 E. Santa Clara Street after he was forced to leave for being rude to other customers. Viri worked as a bouncer for the Old Wagon Saloon and Grill, Tres Gringo’s and Johnny V’s. “He was a bouncer around town,” Austin said. However that night Viri had also been drinking heavily. He left the bar with the banned patron, who had carried with him a personal set of work knives he used to cook with.
Just a few blocks from the bar Viri confronted the patron. In self defense, the suspect stabbed Viri. He died a short time later from his injuries. A bumper stick has been placed on an empty barrel near the entrance of the Old Wagon Saloon to remember him. “It didn’t make sense to me why he followed the guy like that,” Austin said. According SJPD Ofc. Albert Morales, “a suspect has been arrested in connection with Viri’s death”. However despite an arrest, evidence found near the scene cleared the suspect of any wrongdoing.
The busiest time for the downtown area has been during the Cinco De Mayo celebration, when SJPD Officers are forced to close down the streets and freeway exits to help mediate traffic through the area when party goers overcrowd Santa Clara Street.
With over a million visitors attending New Orleans Bourbon Street, and a reported 895 arrests, San Jose’s Mardi Gras events paled in comparison. San Jose Officers felt that the evening had been fairly quiet. One SJPD Officer said, “Many clubs that are usually not open on Tuesday nights are open”. This made for an even mix of patrons to visit several areas of the downtown area, which prevented overcrowding in major parts of the downtown area. “There were so few people that actually came downtown, that no place really got packed,” he said. There were only a few arrests reported throughout the night.
Only a few dozen stragglers remained after the bars stop serving at 1:15 AM. A voice echoed over the loud speaker “Last call. Last call to order drinks”. One patron, when asked what they had for “Fat Tuesday”, said “I had a hamburger with an egg on top called a ‘Sunny Side-up’ I think”. Another patron at Tres Gringo enjoying Mardi Gras’ “Fat Tuesday” said, “I had some chicken thighs at the house, with some spaghetti”. He said, “I was just having some cocktails after that I was just chilling with friends.” With small crowds around town “It’s been really quiet,” he said. “It feels a lot different than past years”.
Photos: Amy Nilson unless otherwise noted
San Jose Mercury News: Quiet Mardi Gras night in downtown
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