After 1990’s violent riots and the cancelation of all Poly Royal events for the following years, the weekend of Mardi Gras became the new party for Cal Poly students and out-of-town visitors.
But in 2004, Mardi Gras also got out of control and riots resulted in over 200 arrests and $500,000 in damages, causing the cancelation of all Mardi Gras events.
The following two years saw a virtual police take-over of San Luis Obispo to ensure student cooperation.
In 2005, the city of San Luis Obispo brought in over 400 police officers in full riot gear and tripled the fines for public drukeness, noise and public urination violations during the weekend.
The city’s precautions caused a movement of Cal Poly students to start the first ever “Poly Gras,” an event that never actually took place.
Mardi Gras 2005 saw only 82 arrests, a 58 percent decrease from 2004.
In 2006, the city cut the number of law enforment down to 350 police officers and students got the message to stay home, leaving the usually bustling streets deserted.
Only 48 arrests were made, a 42 percent decrease from 2005 showing that the San Luis Obispo police department’s “Party is Over” campaign was successful and Mardi Gras, like Poly Royal, will remain nothing but a distant memory.