MADISON, Wis. - Madison Festivals Inc., the group in charge of this year's Rhythm and Booms, is not allowing any food or drink to be brought into the gated area downtown.
According to a list on the event's website, beverages other than baby formula are prohibited in the closed-down area on John Nolen Drive.
Madison Festivals Inc. President Rita Kelliher said organizers are relying on concessions to bring in more than $240,000, a third of the event's cost not covered by the group's funding.
"No city tax dollars are being used for Rhythm and Booms this year," Kelliher said.
Kelliher said 20-ounce bottles of water will cost $2 in the events gated area.
Kelliher said while they are asking spectators to be responsible and abide by the list of acceptable items to bring to Rhythm and Booms, limited security will not be rummaging through personal belongings searching for banned items.
This will be first responders' first downtown Rhythm and Booms event as well, and Madison Fire Department Medical Affairs Division Chief Ché Steadman said people drinking enough water will likely be an issue.
"My guess is that over half of the 911 calls we would have that day would likely be for dehydration," Steadman said.
Steadman estimated there will be an extra 15 or so paramedics staffing Madison's biggest fireworks display, but it's still going to be a challenge.
"When it was at Warner Park, a smaller venue, we kind of had a better wrap around it," Steadman said. "But this is a little out of the ordinary for us. The crowds are going to be very spread out. Law enforcement and fire and EMS are going to be spreading ourselves out, but we can't keep an eye on absolutely everything."
Steadman said Camp Randall changed its policies on bringing water into the stadium on particularly hot days and said he understands the logic behind those decisions.
"We know you need to stay hydrated. You can bring your own water," Steadman said. "And so it's understandable to charge for anything else, but water is definitely something we should let people bring in."
Overall, Steadman said he hopes everyone remembers to drink plenty of water when out watching the fireworks Saturday, no matter where they get that water from.
"We all think it's common sense for someone to keep themselves hydrated," Steadman said. "But unfortunately it's not, and we do see a lot of 911 calls for this type of thing."
According to the Rhythm and Booms website, these items are prohibited from the gated area on John Nolen Drive:
- Food items
- Beverages (except baby formula)
- Plastic, metal or glass water bottles
- Tents, canopies or structures of any kind
- Glass containers
- Sparklers or fireworks
- Briefcases, backpacks, luggage pieces, or duffel bags
- Animals, reptiles or any type of pet
- Weapons (including knives)
- No taping or roping off of large areas
- No overnight camping. Event grounds officially close at 11 p.m. Saturday.
- Bikes, skateboards or skates - you must walk them in for pedestrian safety. If you ride your bike to Rhythm & Booms, valet parking is available on the west end of Monona Terrace.
The following items are allowed on event grounds:
- Seat Cushions
- Blankets/Tarps (10 x 10 maximum), towels, sleeping bags & pads
- Cellular Phones
- Small Personal Music Systems, radios and televisions
- Binoculars, cameras and camcorders
- Baby Bags
- Strollers (only if carrying a child)
- Rain gear (jackets/ponchos)
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