BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - Police left no shadow of a doubt about what would happen before sunrise this Groundhog Day. Occupy Buffalo didn't get six more weeks - or even one day - and Winterfest will soon occupy Niagara Square.
It was about 2 a.m. when Buffalo Police moved in, giving Occupy protesters a little time if they chose to get their things. But eventually, trucks scooped up nearly 50 tents and hauled them away. About 10 protesters who chose not to leave the square were arrested.
Luke Noonan, a protester who was arrested, said, "The fact that we've decamped or we've been forced to decamp in this case isn't indication of anything ending. This is just the beginning of the next phase."
Some couldn't be happier that the square is now unoccupied.
Buffalo Powderkeg Festival organizer Drew Cerza said, "Well, it's great. For us, our whole plan involved using all of Niagara Square and that's been the plan all along. But we really had to wait to see what the city was going to do."
The eviction comes nine days before the start of Buffalo's Winterfest and Powderkeg Festival, which is planned for Niagara Square.
Even if there's no snow, Cerza says, "We're still going to have the ice carvings, we have Broom Ball, we're going to play Kan Jam. The original plan, Red Bull Snowboard Series is going to be coming in setting up a big ramp in front of City Hall and they were going to truck snow in from Holiday Valley, but now they've actually got a snow making machine that can make snow at any temperature, so they're going make 10 tons of snow for this event."
But it's not as easy to freeze the Erie Basin Marina, so the Labatt Blue Pond Hockey tournament will be "street hockey" instead. They plan to have seven different street hockey games going on at the same time in the parking lot across from The Hatch. Want to see where that is? Check out George's reporter's notebook here!
Labatt Blue spokesman Brett Carlsen said, "We're happy to report we're fielding 65 teams, not the 144 that we had signed up for pond hockey, but what can you do? I don't think anybody expected this. It'll bring out probably a different sort of hockey player than we've seen in years past."
You can find all the latest on the hockey tournament here. And for information on Winterfest, follow this link.
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