Having a Holiday Party with an Open Bar? Better Hope The Cops Don't Shut It Down.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year: when we
all gather together at company parties to wear ugly sweaters, eat
some cheese cubes, have a few drinks with that girl from HR … and
get shut down by the cops. At least, that’s what happened at one
event in Boston last Friday.

One week ago, member’s of the city’s technology sector came
together for the fourth annual
Tech Co-Party
, the purpose of which was to throw “an office
holiday party for tech start-ups too small to have their own.” It
was an open invitation, and party-goers paid up to $50 to join the
fun. Part of the profits went to charity.

Unfortunately, the event was cut a few hours short. The
Institute for Justice (IJ)
that “a little after midnight on December 13th, Boston
police crashed the party and shut down the bar.
Officers issued a citation to the Revere Hotel, which hosted
the Tech Co-Party, for allegedly breaking the law.”

One of the participating organizations, Calcbench, took to
Twitter to explain what happened. “We were told the liquor
commision accused the organizers of trying to turn a proft [sic]. I
guess open bar is not allowed for that,” they wrote.

Event organizer Ben Carcio told the IJ, “From what Boston Police
said to us the night of the event, they watch EventBrite, where we
sold the tickets, and they look for ‘Open Bar,’ which is their
concern. They view it as unlimited drinking for a ticketed

Massachusetts liquor laws prohibit selling
“to any person or group of persons any drinks at a price less
than the price regularly charged for such drinks during the
same calendar week, except at private functions not open
to the public.” If the party wasn’t doomed already,
“advertis[ing] or promot[ing] in any way” open bars is also part of
law – which the Tech Co-Party broke by
 party-goers to promote it on social

Carcio was unaware of the law, which hasn’t been invoked to stop
the Tech Co-Party in past years. He was perplexed as to why the
police didn’t “just let us know [open bar was not allowed],” he

to Boston magazine. “That one little
thing would have prevented any of this being more than it needed to
be.” He also stated that in order to guarantee “no
hard feelings
” between them, $500 raised by the Tech Co-Party
was donated to the Boston Police Department.

City councilor Tito Jackson said he was aware that “police look
at Facebook and Eventbrite as part of the monitoring they have [in
place].” He agreed with Carcio that if police “have information
prior to an event, we should either be picking up the phone,
visiting the bar, or having a conversation and reminding people of
the laws or rules and regulations, rather than show up the night of
the event and shut it down.”

A string of similar busts
happened last New Year’s in Boston, and police presumably will
continue to catch harmless holiday parties off-guard unless
legislators decides to reform the law.

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/12/20/having-a-holiday-party-with-an-open-bar

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