BY KEN LITTLE
The reviews are in, and The Band Perry concert Saturday in downtown Greeneville went nearly flawlessly from a security standpoint.
No major crowd or traffic incidents were reported, making the event a generally enjoyable experience for law enforcement and first responders involved.
As those attending the show filed out of the Main Street area Saturday night, Greeneville police Capt. Mike Crum, the incident commander, offered a positive assessment.
"It went well. We're estimating 25,000-plus," Crum said of the crowd size.
Since the free concert had been publicized throughout the region and beyond, but no tickets were sold, law enforcement authorities here were unsure how large a crowd to expect.
Other factors making the attendance hard to predict were the fact that the concert was going to be relatively short in length, there would be no seating, it was Easter Weekend, and many students and their families were on spring break from school.
At the same time, authorities knew that the Perrys have a very large and enthusiastic fan base throughout the country.
Advance estimates on possible attendance ranged from about 10,000 to as many as 60,000, and planners tried to prepare well for the higher figure in case the attendance was that high.
As it turned out, the high estimates proved incorrect and the crowd was large but manageable, law enforcement authorities said. There was ample parking, plenty of food available from vendors and adequate numbers of portable toilets, organizers said.
Figuring the crowd size on Saturday was difficult, and the estimates afterward varied widely.
Besides Crum, several others in key positions related to the event estimated the turnout at between about 10,000 and about 30,000.
Law enforcement officers encountered few problems with the family-oriented crowd.
"We've had no law enforcement issues," Crum said after the concert ended.
One child got separated from his parents for about 30 minutes, but was eventually reunited without incident, he added.
Members of the Greeneville Police Department and Greene County Sheriff's Department SWAT teams were posted in key areas and rooftops, observing concert-goers.
Police also used video surveillance cameras to monitor crowd activity.
Greeneville Fire Chief Mark Foulks said several people in the crowd fainted or became dehydrated and required first aid, but there were no major medical incidents.
Robert Sayne, Greene County-Greeneville EMS director, said all medical issues encountered were handled on-site.
"We had a couple people being overtaken just from being in the crowd," Sayne said. "We haven't had to take anybody to the hospital."
Traffic was congested entering Greeneville before the show, but there were no major tie-ups.
Many people took advantage of parking lots and shuttle buses at the Greene County Fairgrounds and Hal Henard Middle School.
PLANNING 'PAID OFF'
"Overall, it was a great day," Crum said. "I'm very pleased with the planning of this event. As you know, it was short notice with [The Band Perry] CD release date, and everyone had to jump through hoops, and we did that."
Foulks echoed that sentiment.
"Everything went really well," he said after the concert.
"In the future, we hope to have a little more lead time, but the planning paid off really, really well," Foulks said.
Officials of the Greene County Partnership, which organized the event, were elated at the conclusion of the concert.
"It went great from the standpoint that there were no issues, no problems. The enthusiastic crowd was very manageable," Ferguson said.
"The team that worked on this thing, from city to county to all the departments, it is just phenomenal."
The Greeneville/Greene County Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security, and the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA) also contributed to the success of the concert.
Emergency management officials and others handling security congregated at the Greene County Sheriff 's Department's Mobile Command Center next to First Baptist Church, close to the Main Street stage.
"We're just assisting with whatever is needed," director Bill Brown said. "We helped coordinate the planning for the event, making sure everybody stays safe."
Added Bill Worth, TEMA regional director: "We're supporting local government. We activated the National Guard, we activated the Tennessee Highway Patrol and we played a supporting role to the unified command."
Worth said TEMA provides support for events with much larger crowds, such as races at Bristol Motor Speedway.
"So far, it's really manageable, and it looks like a really good plan," Worth said during the concert.
Tennessee National Guard troops were posted at intersections along the event perimeter, assisting Greeneville police and sheriff's deputies with traffic and crowd control.
"We're here in support of this community event, just helping law enforcement. It's been a while since we've been called to help the Greeneville community. I hope they always know we are here to assist," said Sgt. Jason Matthews, readiness non-commissioned officer for Troop L, 3rd Squadron, 278th Armored Calvary Regiment, based in Greeneville.
Matthews said about 60 reservists were on duty, including some soldiers from other troops in the area. Troop K of the same squadron, based in Newport, assisted both Friday night and Saturday.
As the work of crowd management came to an end Saturday night, the job of street cleanup began.
The Greeneville Public Works Department was assisted by volunteers from the Greene County Partnership and inmates from the nearby Greene County Detention Center, Ferguson said.
Brad Peters, Greeneville Director of Public Works, said 26 employees were working on the trash cleanup Saturday night, and would sweep the streets clean when that job was complete.
"They will have everything spic-and-span for Easter Sunday," Peters said.
Saturday was also a banner day for vendors selling food and other wares.
From about 4:30 to 6 p.m. Saturday, "We just didn't look up," said Ella Price, owner of Ella's Catering and Event Planning, whose strawberry shortcakes were a crowd favorite.
Husband John Price, whose Top Dog Hot Dog stand is a familiar sight around Greeneville, also did a brisk business from where the couple was located in front of the county courthouse.
"We sold out my strawberry shortcakes. It was really good. I think it was a wonderful thing for the Greeneville economy," Ella Price said.
Down the street in front of the First Presbyterian Church, hungry customers were enjoying hamburgers and other food prepared by church volunteers to benefit the Presbyterian Disaster Assistance fund.
"It's going well," said David Easley, who was working the grill with his wife, Tonya Easley.
Sno-Biz, which had two booths in the downtown area, also reported good business in such items as hamburgers and hot dogs.
SUPPORT OF DOWNTOWN'
The Rev. Dr. Dan Donaldson, pastor of First Presbyterian Church, said Saturday services had to be moved back one hour, but the church was happy to be a part of The Band Perry event.
"I think this congregation has a long history of support of downtown," he said. "To be involved and engaged is very important. We're pleased to be a part of it."
St. James Episcopal Church also moved a Saturday evening Great Vigil service to 6:30 a.m. Sunday.
About 200 law enforcement officers from the Greeneville Police Department, the Greene County Sheriff's Department and other agencies, assisted by the National Guard, saw to the needs of the crowd.
Among other agencies and contributors assisting at the event were the Tennessee Highway Patrol, the FBI, the Greeneville Emergency & Rescue Squad, the Greeneville Light & Power System, the Greeneville town administrator's office, neighboring fire departments and resources from area police agencies, including the Morristown Police Department and Sevier County Sheriff's Office, which furnished a helicopter that provided aerial assistance.
Planners and agencies involved "worked together so seamlessly we have had no flaws in the cooperation. Overall, it was outstanding," Crum said.
All those who worked and volunteered at the event understood its importance to the community, Crum said.
"We're proud of this band, they're proud of Greeneville, and they did it pretty well," he said.
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