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In Effort To End Raucous Late-Night Parties, Washington Square Park To Close Earlier From Friday Through Sunday

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Changes are coming to one of Manhattan's most popular parks.

There will be no more late-night gatherings on the weekends at Washington Square Park. This comes after police in riot gear had to control a crowd last weekend, CBS2's Cory James reported.

For a while, the park closed at midnight and people were able to stay there after that time if things were calm and peaceful. However, police say recent disorderly conduct is changing that for the time being.

"This is a university area. It's going to get a little loud sometimes," said Genesis Mullis of Greenwich Village.

"That's part of the vibrancy of this area," resident Stuart Shroff added.

That vibrancy is bringing new changes to Washington Square Park.

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The NYPD says large gatherings are the reason the popular area for locals and tourists is closing at 10 p.m. on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays starting immediately.

"Maybe close between 1 and 4, ... 10 p.m., maybe not. Maybe let it go until midnight, let people have their Cinderella moment," Shroff said.

The change comes after police were sent out in riot gear on May 22.

According to sources, weekend parties have been getting bigger and louder since April. In one instance, hundreds of people danced in the street and jumped on top of cars into the early morning hours.

Authorities told CBS2 violent groups are also attacking police, throwing things like bottles at officers.

"I haven't seen anything like that. I've seen people coming out and having fun after a tough year," one person said.

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Some Greenwich Village residents were caught off guard by the latest news and hope the change is short-lived.

"It's going to be an important summer for people to get out and this is a special place and a special park and the more often we can keep it open at night and have people gather here and have fun and be with their friends again and be with their family, the better," one person said.

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The NYPD said the decision was made because of safety concerns after several incidents.

The Parks Department also echoed that, adding its officers are working with police to address "large gatherings, amplified sound, and other conditions in the park on weekends."

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And those who hate to see this happen say they also get why it is being done.

"I guess I can understand if it's a big underground party, shut it down," Mullis said.

Officials said the park will be monitored and changes will be made as needed.

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