PORT CHESTER, N.Y. -- The Capitol Theatre is taking steps to try to control the large crowds of Grateful Dead fans expected for its upcoming performances by Phil Lesh and Friends.
Thousands of Grateful Dead fans descended on downtown Port Chester in April for a series of nine shows by Furthur, a band founded by Grateful Dead members Phil Lesh and Bob Weir. The large crowds and congested parking drew some complaints from residents. The Capitol Theatre management is looking to block off portions of Broad Street to provide a place for the crowds and vendors to congregate when Phil Lesh and Friends play four nights in late October and early November.
The show could draw between 5,000 and 7,000 visitors to the village, according to Anthony Tirone, an attorney for the Capitol Theatre. While the theatre and the band do not necessarily encourage the large crowds of Deadheads who follow the band, Tirone said that providing a space for them to gather can help control the situation so that the fans can enjoy the show, patronize local businesses and avoid causing any disturbance.
Tom Baily, general manager for the Capitol Theatre, said that he does not anticipate crowds as big as those the village saw in April. He is working with the MTA and MTA police so that they are aware of what is happening and how many people will be coming to the shows. He will also be talking to the restaurants next to the theatre and encouraging them to market themselves to the visitors.
"The main goal for us is to prepare and be ready, just in case there happens to be an audience there, to make sure that they're not in the streets, overflowing into Port Chester and causing trouble," Baily said.
Security will be primarily be handled by a private security contractor and off-duty police officers, who will be paid by the Capitol. Acting Police Chief John Telesca said that the crowd at the April shows were very manageable, and he doesn't expect there to be too many problems with this crowd.
The section of Broad Street adjacent to the Theatre will be closed off between around 4 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. from Oct. 31 to Nov. 3. In return for permission to block off the section of street, the Theatre is offering to help establish a Port Chester Beautification Fund to help improve the area around the Capitol Theatre, train station and surrounding downtown portion of the village. The Theatre will be donating up to $20,000 to the fund through the end of 2015 to help with the improvements.