OSSINING, N.Y. — Ossining nearly joined a growing number of communities where teens have plotted to throw a party based on the movie "Project X," and invite a few thousand of their best friends to an abandoned factory for a wild night.
Village of Ossining police got word Saturday that “as many as 4,000 underage youths” were invited to the party through Facebook and Twitter, and the police decided to beat the teens at their own social media game.
When the Ossining police learned that a party was planned for around 8 p.m. Saturday at the old Brandreth Pill Factory on North Water Street in Ossining, they put out messages on Facebook and Twitter warning parents about the event, which advertised that drugs and alcohol would be available, and said that police intended to prevent the party from taking place, Lt. Mike McElroy said Monday.
“We placed a presence in the area (of North Water Street) and we also put it out on Facebook and Twitter and various social media that we were aware of the plans,” McElroy said, adding that there were no charges or arrests in the incident. “It was just more in the nature of a preventative action. Thank God we didn’t have a lot of underage kids there.”
McElroy described the plans as a “Project X-type underage drinking party.” The name refers to the recently released film “Project X” about teenagers throwing a massive party that gets out of control.
An ABC Nightline story recently reported that attempts at copycat parties have occurred in Miami, Houston and Michigan. The story describes “Project X” as a movie “about a group of teenage nerds throwing a party to gain popularity, while their parents are out of town, only the party gets out of hand. Suddenly there are explosions, cars driving into swimming pools and a SWAT team.”
McElroy said police in Ossining and Sleepy Hollow were able to locate Twitter and Facebook communication about the party, known as “Project New York.”
Local Twitter users commented over the weekend about the party using “#ProjectNewYork,” including user DusTeeHD who tweeted, “theyre still saying #ProjectNewYork is still happening tonight so that should be awesome if it happens!! If not any other partys tonight??”
Several Ossining High School students said Monday that they were aware of the party after invitations were sent through Facebook and references to "Project New York" were made on Twitter.
McElroy said that while the Police Department doesn’t regularly monitor social media, it helped in stopping the party before it started.
“Social media played a role in terms of getting the party out there to kids and in us getting out the word that we knew there was a party,” he said. “It played a role in us being able to alert parents of people whose names came up in our investigation.”
McElroy stressed the importance of parents' monitoring social media on possible illegal activities.
“The moral of the story is that parents need to know what kids are up to on social media,” he said. “It’s not a harmless situation to have young people who are inexperienced drinking where all kinds of other medical and criminal activities can be involved. It’s dangerous.”