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Security ‘top priority’ at jazz fest

Profile image for By Megan Gray / Staff Writer
By Megan Gray / Staff Writer

With more than 200,000 people expected to flow through Quakertown Park during the three-day Denton Arts & Jazz Festival, security is an issue organizers have been working on for years.

“It’s our top priority,” said Kevin Lechler, assistant director of the event. “We have had the same emergency response plan we have been building on for a good 10 years, that I know of.”

Lechler, who said this is his ninth festival as assistant director, mentioned the event’s emergency preparedness is something organizers don’t take lightly.

“We work with the city, police and fire departments to make sure everyone is well versed and well trained no matter what happens,” he said.

With the recent events in Boston, large crowds and the way they are handled have been taken into consideration by all on board.

Officer Ryan Grelle said the Denton Police Department will have extra officers on patrol and is asking everyone to be aware of their surroundings.

“If you see anything unusual going on, spot an officer and let them know,” Grelle said.

With an abundance of music and food throughout the festival grounds, there will also be plenty of alcohol for sale.

Police ask everyone who drinks to do so with caution and, if needed, to call a friend to be the designated driver.

“If you are really just going to overdo it, call a cab,” Grelle said.

With the A-train becoming increasingly in demand for travel to area events, the Denton County Sheriff’s Office said personnel are on alert to make sure passengers, as well as rail employees, are safe.

“We would remind the public to report any suspicious activity on the lines at any time,” said Randy Plemons, assistant chief deputy of operations.

Plemons said area agencies are constantly evaluating security needs on a routine basis.

With the festival having had its share of rain over the years, Brad Lahart, spokesman for the Denton Fire Department, said the department will be closely monitoring the weather.

“In the unlikely event of severe weather, there is a plan in place to shelter people in their vehicles and/or city buildings around the park area,” Lahart said.

Lechler said he wants to assure the public the festival is prepared — no matter what the situation may be.

“We have been through the ‘what ifs’ and are looking forward to another year of great attendance and safe family fun,” Lechler said.

The 24th annual festival starts today and features the David Sanborn Trio at 9 p.m. on the Jazz Stage.