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La Crosse police get ready for Oktoberfest crowds



The biggest party week of the year in La Crosse is upon us, and some people celebrating Oktoberfest in the past have been known to get out of hand.

However, city police say the fest has become less rowdy over the years, as La Crosse prepares for its 62nd Annual Oktoberfest, that runs from Thursday to Saturday.

Still, Police Sgt. Brooke Pataska tries to be ready for anything, since people do get arrested for bad behavior.

Pataska said Monday in meeting with the media that it’s “making a poor decision you wouldn’t normally make when you are sober. It’s maybe kind of getting too amped up, maybe with a group of friends, or any kind of a scenario.”

Pataska added that shuttle buses and ride services, like Uber and Lyft, will be available for people who shouldn’t drive after a night at the fest. She also urged people to be patient if they’re in a crowded fest situation, such as after the parades.

Hannah Amundson from Oktoberfest (left) speaks with La Crosse Police Lt. Linnea Miller and Sgt. Brooke Pataska at the main festgrounds on Sept. 25, 2023. (PHOTO: Brad Williams)

If you’ve started seeing tarps on the ground or areas roped off along the Oktoberfest parade routes in La Crosse, it’s a few days too early for that.

Those early-bird efforts to mark off good sites for parade-watching have led to tickets from the police in the past. Miller said, however, that people have become less territorial about where they’ll celebrate the parades.

“You have a few people here and there that try to put out (seating areas) really early,” Miller said, “but overall, people are really respectful, I think, of each other.”

Chairs are not allowed to be placed in walkway areas before the days of the two parades — Thursday’s Torchlight Parade or Saturday’s Maple Leaf Parade.

A native of Prairie du Chien, Brad graduated from UW - La Crosse and has worked in radio news for more than 30 years, mostly in the La Crosse area. He regularly covers local courts and city and county government. Brad produces the features "Yesterday in La Crosse" and "What's Buried on Brad's Desk." He also writes the website "Triviazoids," which finds odd connections between events that happen on a certain date, and he writes and performs with the local comedy group Heart of La Crosse. Brad been featured on several national TV programs because of his memory skills.

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