Firefly 2016 gets ‘glowing’ grades

DOVER — By most accounts, the fifth annual Firefly Music Festival held in June at the Woodlands at Dover International Speedway hit all the right notes.

Lt. Christopher Hermance, of the Dover Police Department, said the numbers were certainly glowing, considering that over the festival’s three days and four nights around 120 musicians attracted 90,000 fans and there were minimal arrests.

Lt. Hermance and Ann Marie Townshend, director of planning and community development for the city of Dover, both presented reports during a Debriefing/Post-Mortem on the 2016 Firefly Music Festival before the Council Committee of the Whole at City Hall Tuesday night.

Both agreed that there were very few “clunkers” at June’s festival.

“When you look at the numbers over the course of the entire event and the number of people [creating disturbances] … that’s nothing, absolutely nothing,” Lt. Hermance said.

Mrs. Townshend noted this was the first year the festival was held completely inside the Dover city limits after annexation of some of the grounds of the Woodlands from Kent County earlier this year.

“Overall, the event went smoothly, but staff has identified a number of areas where improvements can be made in future years, both in pre-event permitting and the implementation,” Mrs. Townshend said.

Lt. Hermance said there is room for improvement when it comes to communication between the officers and officials at Red Frog Events.

Dover police monitored, directed and controlled both pedestrian and vehicle traffic in and out of the festival in conjunction with Delaware State Police, Delaware Department of Transportation and Dover Downs International Speedway.

Lt. Hermance said officers from the Dover Police Department spent 2,894.5 hours working Firefly at a cost of $170,657.50, which is paid for by Red Frog Events. Dover police also received 1,767.5 hours of support from 19 supporting municipal police agencies throughout the festival.

In total, all police officers working at Firefly spent a combined 1,346 hours monitoring the campgrounds, 1,471 hours watching over the festival, 1,391 hours directing traffic and 454 hours for command and control for a total of 4,662 hours.

Among the police calls that were received, thefts led the way with 16 incidents, followed by 15 for disorderly conduct. Nine individuals were arrested for fraud and there were six checks on an individual’s welfare and four were for drug use.

Lt. Hermance said, “We will recommend portable lockers with some type of lock to be placed in the area of the showers throughout the facility.”

Members of Dover’s City Council were impressed by the numbers.

“I just want to compliment you,” Councilman James Hutchison Sr. said to Lt. Hermance. “When I look at the city of Dover and this event being a major event in the city along with [two annual NASCAR races] it’s a huge undertaking.

“What’s different with this event is [there are] 90,000 people and for the most part most of them are young people. I look at the coordination and the training and the complete leadership that it takes in order to focus and get the job done and every year we do better at it.”
Mr. Hutchison went on to praise the work of DelDOT and all of the First Responders involved.

Mrs. Townshend said The Fire Marshal’s Office worked 152 hours from Wednesday to Sunday of the festival to ensure the safety of the festival-goers.

Three acts utilized pyrotechnic displays and The Fire Marshal’s Office met with them to ensure compliance. There was a minor fire at one of the food vendor locations due to a leaking/loose gas connection.

Mrs. Townshend said that for future camping permit submissions, the camping plans will need to more clearly identify whether each camping lot is for tents or recreational vehicles.

“The big issue that we need to work on as we go into next year is the intermingling of tents and RVs when they really need to be in separate lots,” she said. “People would want to put up their tent and back their car up to it and their tail pipe goes right back to the tent. So if somebody wants to get in the car and turn on the air conditioning somebody in the tent could have a [carbon monoxide] issue.

“But for the most part it was extremely smooth and Red Frog and Dover International Speedway worked very well with our staff.”

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