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Philadelphia Ubuntu Intrepid Ibex Release Party! And how we almost got arrested

On Saturday the 1st the Philadelphia team of the Ubuntu Pennsylvania LoCo held our release party. Just like last year, we decided to celebrate the release with a Halloween influenced costume party at Drake Tavern in Jenkintown.

Drake Tavern is quite the hospitable place for our events, it’s a pretty family-friendly environment (Zoe was our youngest participant last year) and they gave us plenty of space and were tolerant of us spending a few hours there. We had several new folks show up (including one who trekked out from Pittsburgh!) and a few of us dressed up… I couldn’t resist a Leia costume, ssweeny as Indiana Jones, ChinnoDog as an executioner and jedijf, the primary organizer of the party, as a satanic priest.

More photos here: UbuntuPennsylvania.org Gallery: Ubuntu Intrepid Ibex Release Party

As a whole, the party was a blast, but a very unexpected event very early on almost made it end very quickly…

Paraphrased from jedijf in IRC, here is what happened:

So a 14 year old kid who had frequented our IRC channel shows up with his friend and mom, Randy and I are the only ones there, standing outside on their deck above the Ubuntu banner so people know where to come. I am in costume as a priest with the pentagon chain, Ubuntu satanic edition! Randy is of course with his teddy bear. So the mom asks “When is everyone supposed to get here?” We tell her “around 3” but it’s now 3:20 ish and no one else is there. Some 20-somethings leave the bar to smoke and she decides this is not the right place for her son, says so and leaves with her son and his friend. I say “No problem,” I don’t want the kid to feel uncomfortable.

10 minutes later 2 Jenkintown police cars show up. They ask me what am I doing and why am I dressed like that. I say “It’s Halloween and we’re having a party” and the police ask for some ID. I point out the banner, explain that we we have reservations, but end up going to get ID and some CDs. The police officer checks Randy’s ID and tells him someone called in a complaint that we were trying to lure young boys. InHisName (another regular of the IRC channel) comes up with his son and the police take his son aside and talk to him. In the end I show the officer my ID and offer him CDs to take back to the station, he only accepted one.

Wow! I absolutely respect this mother’s decision to remove her son from a situation she was uncomfortable with, but taking the additional step of calling the police really says a lot about the culture of fear here in the United States. It was a bit upsetting. We’d rather not restrict attendance of our events based on age (and I’m positive the Ubuntu Youth folks wouldn’t be pleased with this either!), and probably won’t. However we are now more aware of what kinds of things can happen and it has gotten me to think what we can do to prevent this kind of situation in the future.


  • Richard Sias

    To avoid similar event to this might be to be more selective of the eating establishment. Backing away from estabishments with ‘tavern’ in their name could be a start. Moving to slightly more acceptable Bennegians, Applebys, UNOs, or Chilli’s might still not be good enough for a mom to leave her 14 year old with a group of adults she has just met.

    Possibly consider a place that doesn’t even offer beer and the argument gets somewhat better that it is JUST an eating establishment. Please not Denney’s or Friendly’s though.

  • pleia2

    I don’t like the idea of avoiding places with alcohol entirely, beer is big with Linux folks :)

    The primary reason for choosing this location is that we had a contact there so we were able to have a Saturday evening event and not have them trying to shove us out the door as soon as we were done eating. But avoiding places with Tavern in the name moving forward might be wise, we specifically had to put a disclaimer explaining all ages were invited and encouraged to attend so people would realize that it was a restaurant and not just “some bar”

    I am not sure we’re really going to try to take into account extreme cases like this, but it was a bit of a scare…

  • elallara

    Scaring! I wonder what the kid might have thought. And I hope the police protested with the mum, because she made them come to the bar with no reason at all. You can’t ask the police to check people just because you don’t like them, there must be a valid reason. Anyway my support to you all, must have been quite disappointing.

  • David A. Harding

    I think the simplest thing we can do to prevent similar happenings is to get people to show up on time. Although I don’t know how anyone could get a child-abuser vibe off Jim or Randy, I think a few more friendly faces would’ve eased the mother’s fears.

    Less simple, but perhaps more effective, is for us to start connecting with the parents of young free software enthusiests. I don’t think making that connection is any harder than sending an email to the parents with a few links about our group. One look at planet is probably enough to convince most parents that we’re good people.


  • Milio

    To Catch A Predator!

    Invite 14 year old kid to a “party”. Party supposed to start at 3, but 20 minutes later there’s only these two creepy dudes trying to chat up the 14 year old kid.

    Yeaaah. And you’re wondering why the parent was freaked out?

  • RoboNuggie


    I thought the culture of fear was just here in the UK, where photos and videos or school nativity plays are banned just in case a pervert is filming for other reasons, or that a single man walking a dog in the park will be asked to produce ID because “single men should not be out where kids come to play”…any many more silly incidents…

    Still, at least it went OK for everyone afterwards.

  • Elizabeth Bevilacqua

    @Milio We didn’t specifically invite anyone, it was an open invitation and he signed up:


    I just think that people in the United States are way over paranoid, certainly moreso than in much of the rest of the world. There simply aren’t statistics to back up these fears, just a lot of silly news programs that get good ratings from scaring people.

    I’m a little surprised at your “creepy dudes” assumption, both Jim and Randy are adult professionals and I’d be reluctant to put them into a creepy category no matter what they’re wearing. Plus there was a big Ubuntu banner, colorful signs for the tables, official CDs to hand out…

  • Schalken

    Make sure you advertise the age group for your release parties, people!

  • pleia2

    @Schalken As you can see from the wiki page that this kid signed up on, we encourage all ages. Last year we had people of all ages (from 2-70!)

    There wasn’t a problem last year, even this year two other parents came with their kids and they didn’t have a problem…

  • Chuck


    1. Advertise party.
    2. Minor shows up.
    3. Only two guys, one in a satanic priest outfit and second guy is holding a stuffed animal toy, are there representing those throwing a party that was to start /20/ minutes previously.
    4. Yeah, I’m pretty sure that I’m calling authorities to be on the safe side.

    While it was their choice to pick costumes a little judgment for a family friendly function might have been called for I would imagine. For an event you want to promote to the public, the Ubuntu satanic edition is not something that most people are aware of nor would they embrace the idea. (Not that a satanic priest would cause me to think of that distro, even being a part of the Ubuntu community myself)

  • jedijf

    In hindsight, I should have sent them into the restaurants to see the area that was reserved for us to wait.

    Other, more ‘normal’ folk may have arrived and alleviated any misconceptions that the mother may have had.

    As far as my choice of costume; it’s Halloween – Vampires, Freddy Krueger etc…

    I ended up having a great time with a REAL minister and his son, and he (minister) even upgraded the next day.

    Live and learn.

    But, I do believe that she was justified. If she felt her child was in harm’s way, she was obligated to prevent others from whatever danger she sensed.

    I was more taken back by the officer’s (only one) attitude, but considering the call, and the fact that by the end of the interrogation I think he understood it was just ONE BIG MISUNDERSTANDING.

    Makes great blog though!

  • Andrew

    hmm… interesting. While i don’t blame the mom for leaving, i think she overreacted by calling the police. She could have waited a little longer though….

    I guess it’s not a good idea to hold release parties on Halloween. Our team held it’s release party on Saturday.

  • Art

    Of course she over-reacted, but this just points out the minefield of hosting all ages events. Youth organizations deal with this all of the time and they have developed policies and protocols to deal with it.

    I don’t think you should change venues, abandon alcohol, or anything of the sort.

    Just require kids under a certain age to be accompanied by an adult, responsible for them. If you want to welcome kids, make it a family event, not a drop your kids off event. Forget what happened, and focus on a more likely scenario. Do you want to be responsible for somebody else’s kids? What if the event was over and mom hadn’t shown up to pick him up? Does The Drake even allow unaccompanied minors? That makes YOU his responsible adult. Is that what you planned on?


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