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Canalside to debut new increased security with free summer concert series

Avery Schneider

Buffalo’s Canalside opens its popular free summer concert series this evening with Charles Bradley & His Extraordinaires. Also debuting are some new security measures at the waterfront destination.

Weapons, drugs, outside food and beverage – all the usual items you’re not allowed to bring to most concerts are prohibited at tonight’s show. There’s more on the list, like selfie sticks and professional recording devices that security guards will be looking for.

Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation President Thomas Dee explained that the new measures are a result of last year’s large crowds – as many as 15,000 people – and some recurring comments.

Credit Avery Schneider / WBFO News
ECHDC President Thomas Dee stands in front of the Canalside concert stage, under construction ahead of the first show of the summer season

“We had so many people and some people complained about too much drinking and some people complained about people not paying attention to the music,” said Dee.

Dee said those comments were listened to and addressed. He said increased security is also part of the new normal at shows, sporting events, and various entertainment venues.

“From an enhancement standpoint, we can almost look at it like if you’re going to a Buffalo Bills game, if you’re going to a Sabres game, it’s the same sort of protocols,” said Dee. The rollout of increased security also follows a Memorial Day Weekend fight and the arrest of a teen with a gun at the Canalside Boardwalk Carnival. Dee says the incident was not a driving factor for new measures, but part of event planners at Canalside being on heightened alert. He says the plans have been in the works for at least six months.

Credit Avery Schneider / WBFO News
Temporary metal barricades line the corner of Commercial Street and Marine Drive, adjacent to where the Canalside Free Summer Concert Series will take place.

At tonight’s concert, most of the Canalside area will be cordoned off with temporary metal fences. There will be entrances at Main and Marine streets and Main and Commercial streets for general entry, and another gate at Main and Perry streets for those with VIP tickets. Each will have seven lanes where bags will be inspected and people will be screened with magnetic wands. Dee said the Canalside staff is hoping to move concertgoers through the lines expeditiously.

“We’re hoping to have it flow, but it really is going to be a question of how the public will be, it will be new to them, they’ll have to react to it,” said Dee. “People will be opening their bags and depending on how much they have in their bags will be a function of how long it might take.”

As far as how many people will pass through those lines, Dee said it’s hard to estimate.

Credit Avery Schneider / WBFO News
Temporary barriers separate the VIP section from the general admission grounds at the Canalside Free Summer Concert series

“I wouldn’t be surprised if we had ten thousand. It’s the first one of the season. I wouldn’t be surprised if we had ten. I wouldn’t be surprised if we had more, and I wouldn’t be surprised if we had less.”

The VIP gate opens at 5 p.m. and general admission opens at 5:30. Dee said the number one priority at Canalside events is to keep visitors safe and ensure everyone has a good time.

Items that must be placed on the security inspection tables:

  • All metal
  • Bags (Bag Policy – only diaper bags and small purses/handbags are permitted)
  • Cell phones
  • Keys
  • Electronic devices
  • Backpacks
  • Chairs

Prohibited Items at Canalside concerts:

  • Weapons of any kind
  • Illegal drugs/drug paraphernalia
  • Fireworks
  • Glass containers
  • Outside food or beverage, including coolers
  • All professional video and photo cameras
  • Recording devices
  • Selfie sticks, tripods or monopods
  • Laser pointers
  • Air horns
  • Animals (unless a service animal)
  • Bicycles (within the secure perimeter)
  • Any item deemed inappropriate or dangerous by security

New protocols regarding alcohol consumption:

  • Any guest who is deemed intoxicated upon arrival will not be permitted to enter
  • Anyone under the age of 21 who has alcohol on them will be ejected from the site
  • Any adult who provides alcohol to somebody under the age of 21 will be ejected
  • Staff may ask for proof of age from anyone wishing to purchase alcohol
  • There will be a maximum of two beers sold to any one person
  • Anyone who staff believes to be intoxicated will be immediately ejected
Avery began his broadcasting career as a disc jockey for WRUB, the University at Buffalo’s student-run radio station.
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