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Security prep underway for Lilac Festival

Updated: Tuesday, May 5 2015, 06:19 PM EDT Rochester, N.Y. – The unofficial start to summer starts on Friday with the 117th annual Lilac Festival. Setup is underway at Highland Park and organizers are still waiting for the flowers to bloom, but police are already working security for the event. “We do know there are trouble makers out there, however we are not going to tolerate that,” said Jackie Shuman, public information officer for the Rochester Police Department. “There are different issues every year. There are some that you guys don’t know about but you know those are issues that we handle and we try to make people not scared to come out,” Shuman said. While crews worked outside Tuesday, cops went online to monitor social media sites. The goal is to stop trouble at the door. Rochester police want to prevent large groups of unaccompanied minors from getting into the festival but it’s unclear how that will be enforced. “It’s all about prevention and we want to prevent problems from happening in the first place and it succeeded and we’re going to keep up with that same regimen this year,” said Larry Staub, director of Monroe County Parks. Like last year, there will bag checks at all the entrances and fences will block off the festival so no one can sneak past security. These two security features were put in place after a big brawl on the last day of the festival in 2013. Staub said the fencing and the security checks prevented problems last year and he’s confident it will work again. “We’ve got plenty of RPD, sheriff’s department, probation officers, private security. We’ve got a wild team and if you’re looking to cause trouble and you’ll looking to have a fight, this is the wrong place to do it,” said Staub. More than half a million people are expected to attend the ten-day event. Police said the number of officers assigned to the Highland Park area will fluctuate depending on the day, time and event. Organizers said there are confident security won’t be an issue- their biggest concern is the weather and the lilacs but it looks like they’ll bloom just in time for the festival.

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