NEWS

'Spookland' VIP pass got 15-year-old free drinks, he says

11/07/2014 04:01 EST | Updated 01/07/2015 05:59 EST
Some minors say they were given free drinks after showing their VIP passes at Spookland, a massive Halloween party near Gatineau, Que., that made headlines after nine teenagers were sent to hospital for drug and alcohol poisoning and others reported sexual assaults to police.

Connor, 15, sold tickets for and attended the event targeted to youth between the ages of 16 to 21.

For selling nearly 50 tickets to other students, he was given a VIP pass that was supposed to get him access to a special area.

But he says that when he showed his VIP pass at the bar, he was served free drinks without any questions asked.

"I got free drinks all night," said Connor, whose last name is not being used because of his age. "I guess it was unlimited. I didn't really count.… They didn't check my ID at all."

Two other students, who didn't want their names published, said they also got free drinks with their VIP passes. Connor said he didn't appear to be the only minor being served alcohol.

"I saw a kid that couldn't even see over the bar go up and get drinks, and I was like, 'Are you serious?'"

Connor said he told the organizer he was only 15 years old.

"It was poorly organized, and people getting drinks underage and stuff like that is probably not very good; not very good at all," Connor said.

"He knew my age. It said on the website, recommended age 16 to 21, but obviously if there were 14-year-olds at this event, then they didn't follow that."

Promoter says VIP passes not for alcohol

I'm With the DJ, the company behind Spookland, said in a statement to CBC News that the VIP passes were meant to give ticket sellers priority entry and access to a special VIP area where no drinks were served.

The company said there was no correlation between VIP passes and alcohol, and that staff at the ski resort where the event was held were serving the drinks.

Parent Michael Beveridge, whose 16-year-old daughter attended Spookland, said the company shouldn't use teens to sell tickets. 

"I think it's pretty despicable that they would hound kids that young to do these types of things, because it gives the impression to parents that the school is sanctioning these events. I don't think you should be allowed to do that," he said.

Parents who hear that their children are selling the tickets at school and that school buses are being used to take them to the party could assume that the schools are involved, Beveridge said.

Meeting set Nov. 13 for parents

The school board wasn't involved in organizing the private third-party event. 

But Ellen Dickson, a member of the Ottawa-Carleton Assembly of School Councils, said more communication is needed at the school level about third-party events.

"Third-party events aren't necessarily a bad thing, but to maintain some kind of control over it, there needs to be some kind of communication … between the principal, between the parents, between the students," Dickson said.

Concerned parents can attend a meeting of the Ottawa-Carleton Assembly of School Councils on Nov. 13, from 7-9 p.m., at Fisher Park Public School.

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