Party People Stand Behind Cancellation

Times Staff Writer

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa on Sunday stood by Los Angeles Fire Department officials whose advice the day before helped convince the organizers of a massive New Year's Eve music festival planned for downtown to cancel the event.

The Giant Village 2006 concert was expected to draw 15,000 people to a six-block area of downtown to hear 15 performers, including headliners the Black Eyed Peas, but the event was abruptly canceled by the organizers after they received advice from Fire Department officials that heavy rains might create a public safety problem.

Alexandra Greenberg, a spokeswoman for the event organizers, said the final decision was theirs, not the city's.

"The city was not responsible," she said Sunday. "It was the decision of the event organizers to pull the event per the advice of the city officials. It was a very severe public safety issue."

Although hundreds of people were turned away and many complained about the cancellation, the mayor said it appears fire officials handled the situation appropriately.

"I think the fire officials made a determination that they believed was in the interest of public safety, and I don't have any information that that wasn't an appropriate decision," Villaraigosa said Sunday as he visited downtown soup kitchens to help feed the residents of skid row.

Fire Department spokesman Ron Myers said Sunday he was not aware of any complaints about the cancellation that day, and he reiterated that the decision was not made by fire officials.

"It was not ordered canceled," Myers said.

A statement posted on the event's website by organizers said the event was postponed "to protect the public and the performers."

"Information will be released shortly about a makeup event where tickets for Giant Village 2006 will be honored," the statement said.

The statement said the decision was made after meetings with city officials. "We were advised that the extreme weather conditions caused serious concern for public safety. Namely, city officials advised Giant that if the event were to proceed, numerous factors threatening public safety likely would result in the termination of the event, sending away the full-capacity crowd. Therefore, based on these discussions and the city's recommendations, we determined to accede to the city's direction to postpone the event at this time."

Greenberg said that organizers had planned to give a portion of the event revenue to charity, but that a decision had not yet been made about how the cancellation would affect that plan. She also said a decision had not yet been made about how to respond to requests for refunds.

The offer to have a music festival restaged in the future did not placate some ticket-holders, including Adam Day, a Burbank resident who had used his credit card to purchase a $150 VIP ticket.

"It was for New Year's. You can't have New Year's Eve in the middle of January," Day said, adding that he would press for a refund.

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