Officers break up fights, disperse large group at Lilac Festival grounds

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. Security concerns arose at the annual Lilac Festival after a large fight broke out on the opening night.

The day started great as the 125th annual Lilac Festival kicked off under sunny skies. But it ended much differently Friday night, with police being called in to break up fights involving several hundred kids. According to Rochester Police, officers responded to assist private security with a large group of teenagers at Highland Park.

Officers say the group included around 300 kids who were refusing to leave the area. Police say several fights broke out as the juveniles were leaving the Lilac Festival grounds. RPD has officers stationed around the perimeter during festival hours. When the fights broke out, they quickly rushed in to control the situation. After about 30 minutes, officers say they were able to disperse the group without any more problems.

The festival does require kids 16 and under to be accompanied by adults. Underage visitors must remain with their escort. As for Friday night, the ages of the kids involved are unknown. Earlier Friday, RPD Lieutenant Greg Bello told News10NBC he is confident in the security measures that are being taken to keep all visitors at the Lilac Festival safe.

“We are going to be handling security outside the festival and there will be security guards inside the festival,” Bello said. “So they have control points of entry to get in and out of the festival. So you might expect there might be some lines getting in and out. I know there are policies about when youths are allowed in or parents being here with their children. So again, just make sure anyone that it’s in a uniform, whether it’s security, whether it’s law enforcement. Everybody is working together to make this as safe of a festival as we can.”

Representatives from the Lilac Festival sent along the following updates on their security protocol:

  • Updates to the parental escort program, effective for the duration of the festival.
    • Individuals 17 and under must be escorted by a parent or guardian at least 21 years of age (identification is required).  
    • Non-parental guardians with ID may only escort up to two (2) under-age individuals. 
    • All underage persons must remain with a parent or guardian while on festival grounds.  
  • Increased security inside the festival grounds and law enforcement around the perimeter.  
  • Additional perimeter fencing.  

All persons entering festival grounds should be prepared to: 

  • Have bag(s) checked by security personnel at points of entry. Weapons, outside food and beverage (except one unopened water bottle), and gang-related attire are prohibited.  
  • Show valid identification that includes a photograph and date of birth (driver’s license, non-driver ID card, college ID, Passport, or Visa). 

News10NBC reached out to RPD to find out more about the fight that occurred and what precautions are going to be taken to make sure something like this does not happen again.

Check out News10NBC’s special Lilac Festival coverage here.