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Park City police brace for Sundance Film Festival traffic, congestion
By Vince Horiuchi
The Salt Lake Tribune
Published January 17, 2008 1:11 am
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2008, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
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PARK CITY - During the party-crazed Sundance Film Festival, not even Paris Hilton or Britney Spears have caused enough rabble-rousing to land in the town jail or on the front page of the National Enquirer.

For the next week and a half, it will be celebrities behaving . . . not too badly, according to police, at least judging from history.

Though more than 60,000 workers, filmgoers and party revelers will converge on Park City beginning today for the annual 11-day festival, local police don't expect more crime, although other complaints increase.

The only celebrities known to have run into trouble during the event were photographer-filmmaker David La Chapelle in 2005 after a confrontation with police, and Eric Douglas, brother of Michael Douglas, who was arrested several years ago for disorderly conduct.

And maybe you could count the time movie critic Roger Ebert's car was towed.

But there's never been a murder or a major violent crime during the festival, according to Park City police Capt. Phil Kirk.

"It's primarily a lot of traffic and a lot of congestion, but people are fairly well-behaved," he said.

Still, his department will recruit additional officers to keep potential trouble-makers at bay. As many as 15 Park City police reserves will be employed in the next week and a half, to boost the total to about 40 officers working during the festival. Two "problem-solving" teams of two officers in squad cars work strictly Sundance-related issues.

Police receive three to four times more complaints during the festival than other times of the year, ranging from parking violations to thefts and fights, said Park City police Capt. Rick Ryan.

"It becomes a whole new environment," he said. "And it's not only Sundance that's there . . . but it's some of the ambush marketing, and hospitality suites, the night clubs that are rented out privately that draw big crowds."

Parking violations are clearly the biggest problem. Of the 1,538 parking violations recorded between January and August last year, more than 20 percent were during Sundance, according to police records.

Calls to Park City Towing, the largest private towing company in town, will jump from 60 to 100 per day when the festival starts, said co-owner Dave Belcher.

"The next week is the largest week of the whole year in terms of revenue," he said.

To keep traffic flowing on Main, city officials are closing the west side of the street to loading and unloading only, and by Wednesday had set up dozens of barricades posted with signs threatening violators with $150 fines.

But ask any business owner along Main Street, where most festivalgoers congregate, and you won't get many complaints about the latte-sipping Hollywood types who take over their town.

"We have more problems during the summer with people coming up from Salt Lake," said Eric Moldenhauer, district manager for the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory on Main Street. "They [movie-industry festivalgoers] are behaved. They're here for the movies - and they may not be the most congenial - but they're here to do their own thing."

Ready to Sundance?

The Sundance Film Festival opens today and runs through Jan. 27 at venues in Park City, Kimball Junction, Salt Lake City, Ogden and Sundance Resort.

* To get tickets, check festival box offices - the Gateway Center at 136 Heber Ave., Park City, and Trolley Square in Salt Lake City. Day-of-show tickets are released each morning at 8 (tickets for the day's first show are released at 8 a.m. the previous day). Tickets for evening screenings that start after the box office closes may be purchased (cash only) at the venue.

* For wait-list tickets, be in line two hours before showtime (or one hour before the first show of the morning), to get a number. Come back at least 30 minutes before showtime and buy a ticket. If there's room, you're in. If not, you get a refund.



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