For those who live in Miami, the commotion and excitement surrounding Ultra Music Festival is just a regular occurrence at Bayfront Park. As the biggest music festival in North America, Ultra, now in its 17th year, has attracted thousands upon thousands of tourists, spring breakers and music lovers.
For all the people in one area, sometimes the excitement can get out of hand. This year Ultra is instituting more regulations and prohibiting more items after undergoing pressure to increase safety measures. The latest changes include enforcing an 18 and up age limit, as well as banning traditional festival paraphernalia such as glow sticks, pacifiers, face masks and non-transparent bags .
“Consistent with our commitment to improve every year, Ultra is conducting a top-to-bottom review of the security procedures and measures to assess where we can add even more security for next year’s event,” said festival officials in a press release last year.
This action was prompted by several tragic incidents over the last few years. One case was the fatal drug overdose of a 21-year-old in 2014.
Another was the trampling of 29-year-old security guard Erica Mack. Mack sustained potentially fatal injuries to her skull and leg under a falling gate after a large group of gate-crashers rushed a weak point in the fence surrounding the venue and trampled her. She was in critical condition when she was taken to the hospital.
During the last two years, both Mayor Tomas Regalado and City Commissioner Marc Sarnoff, along with a hefty group of supporters, attempted to relocate the famous electronic dance music (EDM) festival from Bayfront Park. According to CBS, Sarnoff stated that the festival has a high potential for violence, drug use and general debauchery. In the end, the commissioner called the money made from the festival “blood money” and attempted to find a way to formally move it out of Bayfront Park.
The movement was taken to a vote, and it lost 4-1, keeping the now 17-year-old music festival going strong.
In response to this pressure, and for the general safety of the over 150,000 attendees, Ultra has some new safety changes in policy regulations officially posted on their website.
While previous years also technically had a strict security system and policy, it seems like more is being done this year.
No backpacks are allowed, with the exception of hydration bags (like CamelBaks) and see-through bags. No containers will be allowed, even if they are for hydration as well. There will also be no face masks or totems allowed.
The festival will begin implementing a zero tolerance for drug and drug paraphernalia. Ultra has stated that they will be having undercover cops both in and around the large venue in downtown Miami. The number of security working the festival has increased by an average of 75 personnel a year during the last four years, but this year will probably have more than 300 people working security in total.
According to a Facebook post made by Ultra Music Festival, “We are privileged to create over 1,800 direct jobs in our community and bring over $80 million in economic impact to our local economy.”