May 14, 2010 / 5:43 PM / in 9 years

Paris tries to stop mass Eiffel Tower drinks party

PARIS (Reuters) - Parisian authorities are trying to stop a mass cocktail party organized over the Internet and planned for the Eiffel Tower grounds, after a reveler died on Thursday at a gathering of 10,000 people in western France.

The death was the first on record as a result of “Facebook aperitifs” — giant outdoor drinking parties whose popularity has exploded across France in the last six months and which are organized over the online social network.

The phenomena emerged last November in the western city of Nantes and rapidly spread to other cities. In past weeks reports of these mass parties have sprung up across France.

The Parisian “aperitif” was due on May 23 with a Facebook group having 15,000 people subscribed to the event, the biggest planned in France to date, according to Le Parisien newspaper.

The event was pulled from the website after police warned the organizer of the consequences of staging such a party. The maximum penalty for organizing illegal events in France is six months in prison and a fine of 7,500 euros ($9,527).

The parties often turn into mass drinking binges, and police said the man who died on Thursday in the western city of Nantes had been drunk when he plunged head first over a parapet.

Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoe said the parties risked spiraling out of control and were aimed at enticing a maximum number of people to drink alcohol in public places.

“We want to safeguard this site (Eiffel Tower)... It’s a great site, where more than 4 million tourists visit and we are protecting the residents,” Rachida Dati, mayor of Paris’s 7th district, location of the Eiffel Tower, told local television.

But the potential penalty hasn’t deterred partygoers. A new group entitled “All for the giant aperitif in Paris” administered by 30 people was up and running on Friday afternoon with more than 3,800 already people signed up.

Reporting by Clément Guillou and John Irish; editing by Maria Golovnina

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