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As Boise Grows, Large-Scale Events Seeking City Approval Could Be Shepherded to Office of Emergency Response


In 2018, the Boise Pridefest brought approximately 42,000 people to the area surrounding Cecil D. Andrus Park over two days. At the Jan. 9 meeting of the Special Events Committee in Boise, the event's organizer, Joseph Kibbe, said the 30th anniversary of the event, coming up in June, will be a barn-burner.

"Well, this is a big anniversary," Kibbe told the committee.

Kibbe said Boise Pridefest is on a shortlist for an Intel drone display that may take place in the Boise Grove, and the organization will bring a special artistic guest who could draw upwards of 50,000 people to the Pridefest main stage.

Boise Pridefest and the City of Boise enjoy a warm relationship, and organizers have worked closely with city officials and other stakeholders to make sure this year's event goes off without a hitch, but the prospect of 50,000 people filling Cecil D. Andrus Park and the surrounding area dropped the committee members' jaws—and was an appropriate segue to an unusual item on the committee's agenda: the 2019 Special Events Preview & Plan.

"How do we find ways to bring bigger events into compliance with what is needed?" asked Boise Police Deputy Chief Eugene Smith, who represents the Office of Emergency Response on the committee.

Smith answered his own question when he proposed making OER the official point of contact for the organizers of certain events. Currently, event managers must coordinate with individual divisions of city government when planning events. Under the proposed, informal rule, events that involve fireworks, expect high attendance or could disrupt essential city services will be directed to the OER.

The proposed change was met with enthusiasm by other members of the committee, with representatives of the Boise Police Department, Parks & Recreation and Republic Services saying they supported it.

"What are the high-level events that take up a lot of resources?" asked Boise City Clerk Craig Croner.

Established in 2018, OER began conducting security assessments on events that required anything from road closures to extra waste services and chemical toilets. Conducted quietly, the assessments for individual events, Smith said, are available upon request, but gave the department a window into how Boise's events will grown along with the city, outstripping individual city departments' abilities to coordinate their applications.

While the move was touted as an efficiency and convenience measure, Smith noted that events, like Pridefest, the Women's March and others sometimes attract counter-demonstrators and people who wish to disrupt them. He noted that the 2018 Veteran's Day Parade received a threat within 36 hours of it hitting the streets of Boise. OER's handling of certain larger events could help put a renewed focus on security.

"One of [these events] is going to go wrong," he said. "Those are just the odds."

The committee directed staff to research how it should proceed in implementing the new procedure, and produced a list of events that may be directed to OER as their primary point of contact. They include:

  • Idaho Potato Drop
  • Treefort Music Fest
  • Susan G. Komen Race For the Cure
  • World Village Fest
  • Boise Pridefest
  • X Games
  • Fourth of July Parade
  • Fourth of July Fireworks
  • Twilight Criterium
  • Gran Fondo
  • Water Lantern Festival
  • Goathead Fest
  • Hyde Park Street Fair
  • Art in the Park
  • Spirit of Boise Balloon Classic
  • Veterans Day Parade
  • Holiday Parade