On a warm, spring day a little over 27 years ago, a group of Fairfield students decided to host a beach party at Lantern Point to relax before final exams and enjoy some clams and drinks. An annual end-of-year celebration known now as Clam Jam has arguably become one of the most hotly debated events of the school year.

Timothy Ahern ‘87 and his friends planned an end-of-year beach event in the spring of 1986 where Fairfield students could unwind and hang out at the beach.

“It basically started as a way to relax before hitting the books for finals,” Ahern said.

There were several local bands that were willing to play for the event and one senior decided he was going to cook three bushels of clams for his fellow students. “Of course we needed something to wash down the clams,” joked Ahern. “Everything just kind of evolved from there.”

Several years after Ahern graduated, Clam Jam began to grow in size. By the new millennium, year-round beach residents were losing their patience with Fairfield students and their partying. In 2001, a Fairfield County court judge placed a temporary injunction on the Point after a weekend of heavy student partying and misconduct.

Nevertheless, it seemed that nothing could quell Fairfield’s student spirit when it comes to their year-end celebration. Kate Hickey McGee ‘05 said that when she attended Fairfield, “Clam Jam was still a big event, but it was scaled down a bit because of the injunction on the Point.”

Today, Clam Jam incites even more problems. Ahern said, “As property values go up, the beach residents are going to expect fewer college parties.”

McGee said that in 2005, “The town-gown relationship was strained, but not horrible.There were  a few year-round residents who consistently complained and I know after Clam Jam there were complaints of beer cans on lawns and people urinating on private property.”

The drinking age has been raised since Clam Jam began, which allows police to interfere with people who attend Clam Jam. Twenty-six people were arrested at Clam Jam in 2010, and 36 were arrested in 2011.

Despite the danger of being arrested for attending Clam Jam, students are still more than willing to participate in the year-end tradition. “Obviously being in college we all love a giant day drink, but the fact that there is tradition behind Clam Jam gives the party a little bit more meaning,” said Kelly O’Brien ‘16.

Last April, hundreds of Fairfield students congregated at the Point to celebrate the 27th Clam Jam. “I think Clam Jam is something everyone looks forward to, including myself, and I hope it never ends,” Julz Lister ‘16 said.

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