After three decades of pub crawling, Gator Stompin’ organizers are mixing it up by hosting an EDM-type concert in the Bo Diddley Community Plaza with headliners Waka Flocka and Wolfgang Gartner.
Heather Lilholt, director of community events for Pledge 5 — the organization planning the event — said Gator Stompin’ hopes to attract 10,000 people this year, but she said she realizes the plaza can only accommodate so many.
Gator Stompin’ hosted Less Than Jake on the plaza last year for its kick-off concert and sold about 6,500 tickets.
This year, organizers got permission to close the street near the Hampton Inn and the area around the tax office and the Department of Motor Vehicles to accommodate the expected turnout, she said.
Lilholt said she plans to have police officers, bouncers, emergency exits and the fire marshal to make sure the crowd is controlled.
Because drugs can be common in the EDM environment, Lilholt said a plan is underway for combatting drug use. She wouldn’t elaborate further.
Krystal Martin, Gainesville Police special events coordinator, said Pledge 5 has two permits in the works for the event — one for the use of the plaza and one for alcohol.
Both permits are still awaiting approval.
Martin said because the plaza is open, there really is no limit on the number of people who can attend, but if the alcohol permit is approved, officers will make an assessment on the limit.
“One of the requirements for permit approval is having a certain number of crowd-control management,” Martin said. “It’s their responsibility to cut off the number, and if they fail to do that, there will be officers in there that will remove them or shut down the event.”
Lilholt said she plans to hire bouncers to cover the crowd-control aspect because she expects a large turnout.
“This is the first time we have actually paid for an artist that is bigger than what we normally have — we always put local there,” she said. “We work with a lot of different clubs, so we’ll probably pull from the staff they’re not using.”
Lilholt said people who purchase VIP tickets for the concert are guaranteed spots on the plaza, but general admission is going to be first come, first served.
Russell Etling, the cultural affairs coordinator for the city’s Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs Department, has hosted many events on the plaza. He said he is unsure whether the number of people Pledge 5 wants to fit on the plaza would work.
“I don’t think you could fit 10,000 in there,” he said. “I know the max would be about 2,000, though we’ve probably gotten close to 3,000 a couple of times.”
[A version of this story ran on page 1 on 4/8/2014 under the headline "Waka Flocka, Wolfgang Gartner at Bo Diddley"]