Apres X concert security is set | AspenTimes.com

Apres X concert security is set

Charles Agar
Aspen Times staff writer

Apres X concert security is set

Aspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN ” Aspen police and X Games officials say they’re ready for the estimated 10,000 fans who will converge on Wagner Park for Friday and Saturday’s apres X concerts.

“We want to try and make it as safe as possible,” said Richard Pryor, assistant chief of police in Aspen. Using crowd-control techniques and better signs at bus staging areas, police and planners anticipate few problems.

“Based on our experience with this and other events, we’ve developed a comprehensive plan,” said Gene Palazzoll, supervisor of event security for ESPN.

Working with Aspen Police Department and Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office, Palazzoll will dispatch up to 60 security personnel from First Line Security Services to patrol the concert venue, entrances and exits.

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During concerts at last year’s X Games, fans threw snowballs at a band on stage in the park. Event planners won’t tolerate a repeat performance.

“The bands will stop playing and walk off if there’s a snowballing issue,” Palazzoll said. Security will step in, and planners will contact Aspen police, but only if necessary, he stressed.

Palazzoll called last year’s snowballing the most ludicrous thing he’d ever seen. But he stressed that band members made the mistake of inviting concertgoers to throw snowballs before things got out of hand. Outside of that incident, the crowd was well-behaved last year, and he expects nothing but the same this year.

“We’ve instituted a plan under the guidance of RFTA for street closures in and around Wagner Park that will facilitate loading and unloading of buses,” Palazoll said.

Durant Avenue, which runs alongside both the downtown bus station and adjacent Wagner Park, will be closed to vehicle traffic Friday and Saturday from 7 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. to provide a wider staging area to buses and shuttles.

Officers will set up bicycle barriers to funnel crowds, and there will be more clear signs pointing bus riders to their destinations, Pryor said.

When concertgoers aren’t crowded, pushing and shoving, there are fewer incidents, Pryor said. And by creating an environment where concertgoers can get places easily, police hope to make it a positive event.

“Our focus is getting people home safely,” Pryor said.

The X Games is all about young people getting out and enjoying themselves, Pryor said, but he stressed that enforcement of underage drinking and open container laws will be strict.

Aspen has an 11 p.m. curfew for people younger than 18, Pryor said. And while kids who have permission from their parents can attend the concerts – which go on late into the evening – Pryor stressed that minors must go home directly after the shows.

Pryor said there have been problems with people “sleeping where they aren’t supposed to,” like in parked cars, but the main issue is alcohol consumption and crowd control.

Case workers from The Right Door, an area alcohol and drug abuse case management organization, will set up a detox center near the concert site.

County deputies will cover security near Buttermilk, which can expect as many as 30,000 fans. But Sheriff Bob Braudis said that after years covering the X Games, area police and event staff have it locked.

“We can mail it in,” Braudis said.

The sheriff will dedicate a handful of deputies to back up the city for the apres X events.

Terrorism is always a concern at any major event, Palazzoll said, and his staff does not lose sight of that.

“We will look for anything unusual or suspicious,” he said. “I’m confident that they’re going to go off without a hitch.”

Charles Agar’s e-mail address is cagar@aspentimes.com.

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