Smaller crowds, fewer arrests. Picnic Day Saturday in Davis was just the sort of low-key day that allowed UC Davis officials to breathe a sigh of relief and guaranteed the annual spring event will reach its century mark next year.
"We had (fewer) arrests than last year," Davis Police Lt. Paul Doroshov said. "Anecdotally speaking, most of our sergeants reported that it was more peaceful."
There were still reports of public drunkenness and disturbances that had marred Picnic Day in recent years. That included one fight about 8:30 p.m. Saturday in which a man suffered a knife wound, Doroshov said. The man's wounds were not believed to be life-threatening.
Davis police records showed at least 42 arrests Saturday, including 23 for public drunkenness. Most of the violators were booked and released, records showed.
Meanwhile, UC Davis police wrote 19 citations on campus Saturday for open-container offenses and minors in possession of alcohol. Five people were arrested on suspicion of being drunk in public, said university spokeswoman Claudia Morain.
But attendance a substantially smaller 50,000 compared with the more than 80,000 people who showed up for 2012's Picnic Day and a relatively incident-free Saturday encouraged university officials who endured the event's larger recent crowds and the trouble that followed.
"It's a good sign. It felt like it used to," Morain said.
Police at last year's event arrested more than 50 people and cited another 150. The year before that, a UC Davis graduate died at an off-campus party.
But UC Davis scaled down its promotion of this year's event to dampen turnout, narrowly publicizing the 99th Picnic Day to the campus community and alumni. It was part of a coordinated effort to keep the spring open house more orderly.
A strong police presence also played a role, with law enforcement from across Yolo County, as well as the California Highway Patrol, joining UC Davis and Davis city police on the streets Saturday.
Student leaders and Picnic Day organizers emphasized a family-friendly tone on the campus' Aggie TV ahead of the event, while downtown businesses and campus fraternities and sororities pledged to curb alcohol use and sales.
The city extended its Safety Enhancement Zone for Picnic Day weekend, a large chunk of the central city where fines for offenses such as public intoxication and urinating in public were more than double the $239 minimum levied in the rest of the city.
"There were more police on bikes. There was more outreach," Morain said. "All of that helped."
Call The Bee's Darrell Smith, (916) 321-1040.