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Teenager sent to hospital following large 'Beach Day' brawl

 Sunset Beach in St. Catharines saw crowds estimated at 1,800 or more last Friday
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Police say officers had cans and water bottles thrown at them at a beach gathering of high school students, and at least one teen was sent to hospital following a brawl that resulted in charges.

The incident took place at Sunset Beach in St. Catharines with the crowds estimated at 1,800 or more last Friday.

The first Friday in June has become known as “Beach Day” in Niagara. 

Secondary students across the region take an “unofficial” day off from school and attend area beaches to be with friends, Niagara Regional Police said in a news release.

"Depending on the year, the event has been both problem free and has experienced alcohol and drug consumption, vandalism, littering, and unfortunately violence," the release stated.

Police said as a proactive measure the district offices with waterfront beaches (Fort Erie, Port Colborne, Grimsby, and St. Catharines) began taking steps to "ensure the fun and safety" of those who chose to come the beaches. 

The beach areas were patrolled by extra officers hired for foot and ATV patrol. The NRPS Marine Unit was deployed to the Lake Erie shoreline and the NRPS Traffic Enforcement Unit patrolled the roads near the beaches.

Officers from Community Oriented Response and Engagement (CORE) Units from across Niagara were also deployed.

In St. Catharines, officers found some in the crowd to be "volatile and defiant" at times.

Police said officers faced significant challenges with multiple fights, alcohol and drug (underage consumption) use, motor vehicle collisions, and a large brawl that led to a 16-year-old male being transported to the hospital serious but non-life threatening injuries. 

An 18-year-old male was charged with assault causing bodily harm.

Police said in Grimsby beaches saw little activity. In Port Colborne no issues were reported with about 80 to 100 young people on the beach.

In Fort Erie, the beach saw about 200 to 250 young people. Police said it was a mixed crowd with local families in attendance as well as high school students. Security guards and Town of Fort Erie Bylaw officers addressed attempts to bring alcohol on to the beach.