'My faith is restored': Broughdale Ave. 'grandma' happy FOCO is a no-go
LONDON, ONT. -- Police slowly cruise down a deserted Broughdale Ave. in London, Ont. Saturday keeping a close eye for partiers breaking province COVID-19 restrictions.
It’s a far cry from the 20,000 people who have gathered on the famed dead-end on this date the past few years.
"Usually there is more than 10,000 people, this year there is like ten," says Noah Gibson, a Western University student who lives on Broughdale.
Gibson and his roommates held a small get together, drinking on their front lawn and tossing a football around. They were making sure to abide by the province's gathering guidelines.
Last year, they were ticketed for a noise complaint and too many people in their yard. They weren't about to let that happen again.
"Compared to $200 last year, $100,000 is pretty steep," says Colin Taylor, Gibson's roommate.
While all was quiet on Broughdale, some students living in residence on campus were ticketed.
"They've been fining students for gatherings of more than two people per room," says Matthew Garb, who admitted he used to come from Toronto to London to party on Broughdale before he was a Western student.
"In 'rez' the previous rule was as many people per room as you wanted along as you were six feet apart. They are also fining people for not wearing a mask inside."
Instead of heading to Broughdale, many students elected to gather outside Delaware Hall.
"It’s FOCO, but it looks a lot different that years before," says Krishan Karia.
"We are out on the lawn playing Spikeball and maintaining social circles. It's not just students in London, it's more the community we are trying to protect."
By mid-afternoon, London police had attended a few small house parties.
Const. Sandasha Bough says none of them violated provincial guidelines.
As of 4 p.m., there were no provincial order violations and all gatherings kept to under 25 people outdoors and 10 indoors.
On campus police are working closely with residence managers.
Adult volunteers in blue shirts were the eyes and ears on the street, and Middlesex- London EMS (MLEMS) was set up behind Elgin Hall.
"About this same time last year we had about 30 calls for service and so far we have had no calls for service no grounds of Western," says Paul Van Dyk, operations superintendent with MLEMS.
Van Dyk commended the students for complying with COVID-19 restrictions.
Back on Broughdale, it is a rare sight to see Bess Srahulek, 90, home on this date. She usually leaves for the night, but when the street was quiet, she returned home in the early afternoon. Unlike previous years, the garden on her front lawn was untouched.
"It’s a marvelous feeling to know that this is the day that I had to leave many times and now I'm home," says Srahulek.
"My kids told me to be positive and my faith is totally restored. God bless and keep it up kids."
Next year, Western University plans on moving homecoming back to the last Saturday in September. The pandemic may have made the last official FOCO a no-go.