Miami Tells Ultra Festival: Take Your Glowsticks Elsewhere
The ultra popular and ultra rowdy electronic dance music event Ultra Music Festival was held in Miami over the weekend, and after 76 arrests, 118 festival goers needing medical attention, and one security guard trampled nearly to death, Miami mayor Tomas Regalado and other city officials are saying that Miami will welcome the EDM event of the year no more. According to a local Miami CBS affiliate, Regalado and City Commissioner Marc Sarnoff are taking the steps to insure the three-day festival will have to leave its Miami home and take its ecstasy and glow sticks elsewhere.
“The mayor and I will be proposing a resolution in front of the commission that would deny them the ability to have Ultra in the future,” said Sarnoff, according to CBS. “I think they have overstayed their welcome.”
“What happened this weekend is an event that could have been avoided,” said Mayor Regalado to CBS on Sunday of the security guard’s trampling after people without tickets attempted to rush the fence to break in to the festival. “The organizers of Ultra did not follow the police directive to re-enforce the fence, even though they knew that this year, and the year before, some kids have tried to over run the fences. In the next weeks, we are going to have a discussion on the city commission level to deny the permits for next year for the event here in the city of Miami.”
Miami residents and city officials have grown frustrated with the annual event, as attendees have become increasingly unruly and people without tickets attempt to break in through the festival’s barricades, which is how private security guard Erica Mack was trampled on Friday night. She is in critical condition with a broken leg and severe head injuries.
“She was not strong enough to deal with a mob of people that actually pushed this fence down, pushing her backwards and the fence landing on top of her. Now these people started trampling on top of her just to get into the event, as a result she sustained major head trauma as well as a broken leg,” said Miami Fire Rescue Lt. Ignatius Carroll, per CBS. Officials had advised that the fence where Mack was trampled be reinforced, but those instructions were not heeded.
Not everyone is thrilled about the idea of the festival being taken somewhere else. The event gives police officers a chance for some extra pay and it brings hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue to the city each year. Sarnoff and Regalado believe that the events this year show the negatives outweigh the positives.
This year marked Ultra’s sixteenth anniversary of celebrating EDM in Miami. Last year’s fifteenth anniversary festival saw the event expand into two weekends, but city officials denied the festival’s request for two weekends this year. Loud music, rowdy and intoxicated partygoers, and unbearable traffic all make the festival unloved by many Miami residents. But like any music festival or other large event that draws lots of people to a particular location, Ultra makes the city a lot of money. Forbes estimated that this year, Ultra would bring Miami $200,000 in revenue over the course of three days.
The festival is still primarily focused on EDM, but 2014′s bill was more diverse than in the past. DJ headliners included Afrojack, David Guetta, and Tiesto. Live headliners included political rapper M.I.A., indie rock darlings MGMT, and Aussie synthpop group Cut/Copy. Since its start in 1999, the festival has tried to incorporate both live bands and the world’s most popular EDM disc jockeys. Superstar DJ Avicii had to cancel his headlining slot to undergo gall bladder surgery over the weekend. He posted an apology on his Facebook page.
Last year, the festival saw its first death by drug overdose as heavy drug use has historically been a problem for the festival. About two dozen people were hospitalized over the course of the festival’s two weekends last year — though it’s uncertain how many of those hospitalizations were related to narcotics — and there were forty-five narcotics-related arrests, according to The Miami New Times. Sarnoff has repeatedly criticized the rampant drug use at the festival, choosing to cancel the event’s second weekend in part because “about 70 to 80 percent of these kids are on some sort of mind-altering drug,” the Times reports.
Festival organizers released a statement saying, “Every year the event organizers work collaboratively with police and other municipal partners along with the organizers’ independent security partners to ensure the safety of all patrons, crew, and working personnel. Because a thorough investigation is underway, event organizers regret that additional comment cannot be provided at this time. The event coordinators are cooperating fully with investigative authorities.”
Despite the event’s earning power, it seems that EDM fans have taken the partying too far and will have to find a new home. “I’m asking the Chief and the Chief of Fire to meet with me, the Mayor, and the Miami-Dade County Mayor. Let’s get through this weekend and put this thing to bed, never come back again,” Sarnoff said, per CBS.
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