Summerfest crowds: Chaos or under control?
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MILWAUKEE -- Police say more than 100,000 people packed into Summerfest Saturday night. That's like putting the population of Green Bay through the gates. Police say all things considered, it was a success. But two teens caught in the crowd tell Today’s TMJ4 it could have, and should have, been handled better.
Concertgoers swarmed Summerfest Saturday night -- Gina Slater and Katelyn Thomas caught in the chaos.
"We were screaming to each other," says Slater. "I was screaming bloody murder because I was getting so squished."
The two teens tried to get in line for tickets to the Imagine Dragons performace and were swallowed by a sea of people.
"I was buried in the crowd," explained Slater. "There were people shoving and pushing and there were guys grabbing us."
Milwaukee police and Summerfest personnel made the call to open the gates, letting people in, ticket or not. Police Chief Ed Flynn says it was the right thing to do:
"The challenge is do you adapt the plan to the changing conditions and that's what happened Saturday."
Summerfest officials say the nice weather, the big names on the bill, and the large number of people trying to buy tickets last minute created a perfect storm they hadn't planned on.
"All of those in concert, I think, created a situation for us that was different than what we've seen in the past," said Summerfest excecutive John Boler
Police say they will have all hands on deck on the big nights and they don't want this to be a reason for people not to take part in the Big Gig, or any other big event downtown. But Gina and Katelyn say it shouldn't have taken this for that to happen.
"I wasn't enjoying myself," says Slater. "I thought it was going to be a great time and it ended up being a total disaster."
Police say, in the end, there were no major injuries, no major arrests, and the overall response is something the city should be proud of. The girls say they understand police are doing the best they can, but after what happend to them, they're not sure if they want to go back.