ATLANTIC CITY — For some Phish fans making their way to “Shakedown Street” — the long row of unauthorized vendors that traditionally pop up at Phish concerts — it was important to stop and support local businesses first.
“I figure that they put up with us to a certain extent,” Luke Berry, 42, of Richmond, Va., said after he purchased a sugar-free Red Bull and a gallon of water Sunday from DeMarco’s Market in Chelsea Heights.
Berry said local residents and business owners had been nice and welcomed Phish fans who descended here for a three-day festival at Bader Field.
“Of course, part of coming in here is they put up with us, so we should try to put a little bit of money back into (the area),” Berry said.
For employees at DeMarco’s Market, on Crossan Avenue across from the venue, this weekend’s festival was not just about making money. It was also about welcoming the thousands of fans that trekked to the resort for the festival.
Patrick Roe, 22, of the Chelsea Heights section of the city, said he came up with the idea to sell a “concert special” — chips, a drink and a sub for $6 — to offer more options to concertgoers.
Roe said it is typical for food vendors to increase prices during special events because of the limited options to spectators. However, Roe said he disagreed with that business perspective.
“You don’t want to run them out of town,” he said of spectators.
Roe, who graduated from the Culinary Institute of America last year, said his approach was well-received.
“I think it’s nice to be doing this for them,” he said, adding that he had repeat customers all three days of the festival. “It’s a good deal for them to get food at a great price.”
He said last year’s Dave Matthews Band Caravan, which also took place at Bader Field, was his first time trying to feed a concert crowd. That multi-day festival prepared him for the crowds this weekend.
While the market normally closes at 6 p.m., Roe said the hours were extended to 7 p.m. and the market reopened at 11 p.m. for when the crowds get out.
Atlantic City Police Sgt. Monica McMenamin said crowd control and public safety efforts for the event went smoothly.
“We learned last year from Dave Matthews and made some adjustments,” McMenamin said, adding that four police officers were stationed at every intersection near Bader Field to control pedestrian and vehicular traffic during the weekend.
As of 9:45 p.m. Sunday, police had not released information about the number of people arrested during the festival. However, McMenamin said most of the arrests were for underage drinking and distribution of drugs, she said.
When the three shows ended, police closed Albany Avenue for about an hour and let spectators take over the street to reach their vehicles or rides away from Bader Field.
The move was well-received by concertgoers.
“It’s gold,” said Ryan Kerrigan, of Berkeley, Calif. “The way they’ve got it dialed in.”
Kerrigan said the mass exit at the end of each night was like a “wave of humanity” and police took special care to ensure everyone got out safely.
He said Bader Field was an excellent choice for a Phish festival and he enjoyed the juxtaposition of the Atlantic City skyline and the creativity and calm vibe that Phish fans bring to any concert.
“It’s like Disneyland and Las Vegas. It’s manmade,” he said, adding Phish music is “natural.”
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