Another “Hell Night” in South Delta has come and gone with both the City of Delta and Delta School District left to tabulate the damage.
Hell Night has become an annual alcohol-fueled rite-of-passage that sees some South Delta teens spend the first night of the new school year partying throughout the community which often times results in acts of vandalism.
Delta police spokesperson Kristy Neville said police dealt with what she described as run-of-the-mill vandalism throughout the night on Sept. 3 and into the morning of Sept. 4.
“Trash bins and recycling bins knocked over, trash bins knocked over,” she said. “Our stance is that Delta police appreciate there is a tradition that surrounds Hell Night, but we do not condone any of the actions. There is some surveillance footage that we are going through and we will be looking into some of the more serious vandalism.”
According to the City of Delta, three city sites were hit with significant vandalism: Pebble Hill Park, Chalmers Park and the Delta Sport Development Centre/Ladner Skate Park.
Cost to repair these sites is $2,500.
The school district saw significant vandalism at Hawthorne, Holly, Annieville and McCloskey elementary schools as well as Delta Secondary. Estimated damage is approximately $3,000.
Assistant superintendents Brad Bauman and Nancy Gordon said the school district does not condone the event or the behaviour of the students who participate.
“The message is… this is not a school-sanctioned event and in no way do we condone the behaviour that takes place,” said Bauman. “I think it goes without saying that we reach out to parents and discourage them or at least ask that they be cautious when allowing their child to participate.”
Gordon said school administrators met with all of the Grade 12 students before the night happened.
“We have, however, a small percentage of kids who choose to ignore these warnings,” said Gordon.
Bauman added that schools are prepared the next morning by not letting students on school grounds who are intoxicated and take a pro-active approach working with their community partners like the City of Delta and Delta police throughout the night.
“We are out connecting with our school liaison officers, certainly throughout the evening and early morning dealing with the aftermath in a coordinated way,” he said. “This year we put at all of our secondary schools security until relatively late in the evening as well, exterior lighting at all of the schools were lit up throughout the night as ways to deter this behaviour.
“For us, though, it still goes back to the fact that parents need to be aware of the fact that not only could their kids be putting themselves in danger by participating in these group activities, we want parents to understand that if their kids are caught vandalizing or damaging property, they will be held responsible.”
Gordon said every year there are varying degrees of involvement and fall-out. This year that included a handful of schools that had graffiti painted on the outside of the buildings.
“It’s a small minority of kids who are engaging in some very unfortunate and poor choices of behaviour,” said Gordon. “We are up against a ‘so-called tradition’ that has been in this community since many of our parents were kids. We need to change the mindset for parents that this is OK, because it just isn’t.”