Laura Oblinger


TRAVERSE CITY — Several teenagers were cited Saturday night at the home of a Northwestern Michigan College Board candidate after a party spun out of control.

The largest party Grand Traverse County Sheriff’s Department deputies responded to in recent days came Halloween night — with more than 100 teens at the home of candidate Laura Oblinger.

Oblinger said Monday the party was to be a small outdoor gathering but grew into a rager after dozens of uninvited teens crashed it.

The situation drew deputies to Oblinger’s Garfield Township home around 10 p.m.

By night’s end, according to Sheriff Tom Bensley, one teen was cited for minor-in-possession, assaulting an officer and resisting and obstructing police. Another could see charges of MIP and resisting and obstructing, and three more teens were cited for Minor in Possession.

A report sent to Grand Traverse County prosecutors will determine whether Oblinger and her husband face any charges.

Lt. Chris Oosse said the citations were mainly spurred by the teens’ use of marijuana.

Oblinger first learned of the party via her daughter’s social media. She found the shared invitation cute and seemingly safe — until recognizing her address at the bottom and spotting lines encouraging guests to “bring their own beer” and promising to provide “jungle juice.”

She and her husband spoke with their 14-year-old daughter, and after reaching an understanding about alcohol and a hard guest limit, further considered the idea. Green lights from fellow parents, neighbors and the Sheriff’s Department reassured Oblinger, and she opted to allow her daughter’s small costume party.

“These kids were going to go somewhere, and we wanted them at our home, (safe),” Oblinger said. “We gave our daughter the opportunity to do things the right way.”

Things started out well — by 8:30 p.m., only close friends were in attendance, and party-goers appeared to be following Oblinger’s guidelines. When weather turned harsh, she allowed the teens in the basement, which opened to the backyard via a sliding door.

But soon, Oblinger stopped recognizing faces.

As the clock ticked on, Oblinger’s husband kept a close eye on the backyard, where despite increasingly concerning numbers, party-goers appeared to be responsible and safe.

At its peak, the party saw 75 attendees in the yard, and Oblinger estimated another 50 packed into the basement — when she checked in, she discovered several were smoking weed and drinking.

She first ordered them out of the house, but hesitated after considering their driving home.

“I did not want kids getting in cars,” Oblinger said. “There was just chaos beyond chaos.”

Minutes later, deputies were standing at Oblinger’s door — called by a neighbor or passerby who, according to logs, saw several teens drinking.

One party-goer was detained while they quelled the large gathering, but no arrests were made, logs show.

Oblinger said she and her husband didn’t supply anything — no food, no plates and napkins, and, she added, most certainly no alcohol.

“What happened at my home — nobody’s immune to it. My daughter’s not a horrible child. None of those kids are horrible kids,” Oblinger said. “But they need to understand how to (safely) have fun and how their actions impact others.”

A fellow candidate shared sympathies for Oblinger.

“It’s unfortunate for the kids, for the police and for the community,” said Vincent Cornellier, also running for a seat on the NMC board. “It could happen to anyone with social media the way it is.”

Reporter Patti Burgess contributed to this report.

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