A sold-out Chris Brown show at Darien Lake Performing Arts Center kept emergency responders busy for hours last night, but other than making for a long, tiring night, it wasn't that bad, said Chief Deputy Gordon Dibble, Genesee County Sheriff's Office.
There were no serious fights and there are no reports of serious injuries, and while there were 16 arrests at the show, they were mostly for run-of-the-mill offenses, from trespassing to unlawful possession of marijuana.
"Generally, it was a very pleasant crowd," Dibble said. "They were polite, for the most part, even when caught in traffic coming in, they mostly had a good attitude. Some of these people coming in waited a long time and for the most part they were very nice. They just wanted to get to the show like everybody else."
The traffic tie-ups were not unexpected, Dibble said. The traffic jams around the park were typical of a sold-out concert on a weekday night, when everybody gets off work and heads to the show instead of coming in over the course of the day, like on a Saturday or Sunday.
Traffic started to back up shortly after 5 p.m. and traffic jams slowed down concertgoers coming in from all directions. Three or four minor traffic accidents caused some blocked lanes and tollbooth workers at times had a hard time keeping up, causing traffic to back up on the Thruway.
"So many of the roads were built when that place was a swimming hole, a hot dog stand and a couple of lifeguards," Dibble said. "Those are the same roads then as they are today."
Dibble is aware there are still people who advocate for a return of private parking around the venue, but that's not the answer Dibble said. Those lots, he said, create more problems than they alleviate.
"I'm under the opinion after my many, many years out there that congestion on Sumner makes it worse," Dibble said. "You have masses of people walking on Sumner and mixing pedestrians and traffic isn't good. This is much safer. And then you had people pulling into private lots dickering with the people taking the money and backing up traffic. There's no way I want to go back. Darien Lake has the space available to handle the parking."
There's been talk for years about how to open up more entrances and exits to the lots, but there's no easy answer, Dibble said.
Colby Road isn't the answer because of the configuration of the roadway.
"Exiting, that would be good, but the topography of that road, the hills and blind spots, make that difficult and very dangerous," Dibble said.
Dibble noted that Cherry Hill Campground continues to accept concert parking and that doesn't really help matters.
"They get them in there and then abandon them there and that's a problem for us when it's time to leave," Dibble said.
Early in the evening, local emergency responders were overwhelmed by the sheer volume of medical calls, mostly for alcohol-related illnesses. That was a combination of the alcohol and the heat, Dibble said.
The county needed backup units from Erie and Orleans counties and patients were transported to multiple hospitals so no one hospital became overwhelmed.
Live Nation had two doctors in the venue, as is now standard practice for sold-out shows.
"There are a lot of things they're able to take care of right on property instead of transporting them," Dibble said.
Dibble didn't have a count yet on how many citations were issued for underage drinking, but they were numerous.
"Each band has its own personality and its own following and this particular band attracted a the type that was younger and there was a lot of underage drinking," Dibble said.
The early-evening enforcement of ABC violations helps cut down on problems later in the night, Dibble said.
"For the number of people there, it was really a good night, actually," Dibble said.