Major changes are coming to Albany’s end-of-summer party: people will no longer be allowed to bring coolers or any outside alcohol into LarkFEST.
The same "no cooler" policy has been implemented at Alive at Five and the Tulip Festival.
“What was LarkFEST maybe ten years ago, has become nothing more than a party event,” said Lark Street resident RA DePrima.
Despite what many people think, LarkFEST isn't about the beer.
“LarkFEST is a music fest not a drinking fest,” said another resident, Jeff Gritsavage.
This year, the Lark Street Business Improvement District is making that message clear.
“If you want alcohol you have to go to the businesses and put it in an official event cup,” said Lark Street BID Director Meghan McGrath.
The policy change means no more coolers, no cans, and no bottles or beer from home. If you want a drink, head in to your bar of choice along Lark Street.
“It’s kind of a gift to businesses to bring people down, to spend money, and enjoy themselves here,” said John DeJohn, owner of DeJohn’s, Justin’s, and Legends on Lark.
He and other restaurant owners are pleased to hear the news, saying it's another way to control consumption and avoid any problems.
“When they bring the coolers they get in the way, they don't look right, people park themselves and it blocks traffic, it’s unsafe and it’s not controlled,” DeJohn said.
But some local residents don't expect the new policy will have much of an impact.
“People do their own thing before LarkFEST and then after LarkFEST,” explained Albany resident Michael Romeo.
And what goes on during LarkFEST has got neighbors like RA DePrima fed up with the festival.
“Last year, I alerted a police officer that right there under the steps a young man was urinating,” DePrima said. “I don’t think it is going to help at all, but it's a nice try.”
Other people are more optimistic, hoping the new alcohol policy will calm the chaos.
“It's just going to change the tone to get LarkFEST back to what it is,” Gritsavage said. “I am a resident here, please don't make a mess, but please come down.”
LarkFEST 2012 will be held September 15th from to and, of course, the bars will be open into the early morning on Sunday.
There will be officers at each of the 13 entrances to check bags and make sure no one is bringing alcohol into the festival.