THE HEAT IS ON: A STUDENTS TAKE ON LIL WEEZYANA FEST

In+this+Saturday%2C+Sept.+7%2C+2019+photo%2C+Festivalgoers+try+to+escape+the+crowd+during+Lil+Wayne%27s+fifth+annual+Lil+WeezyAna+Fest+at+the+UNO+Lakefront+Arena+grounds+in+New+Orleans.+A+crowd+stampede+injured+several+people+attending+a+New+Orleans+festival+organized+by+rapper+Lil+Wayne.+Sophia+Germer%2FThe+Advocate+via+AP
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THE HEAT IS ON: A STUDENTS TAKE ON LIL WEEZYANA FEST

In this Saturday, Sept. 7, 2019 photo, Festivalgoers try to escape the crowd during Lil Wayne's fifth annual Lil WeezyAna Fest at the UNO Lakefront Arena grounds in New Orleans. A crowd stampede injured several people attending a New Orleans festival organized by rapper Lil Wayne. Sophia Germer/The Advocate via AP

In this Saturday, Sept. 7, 2019 photo, Festivalgoers try to escape the crowd during Lil Wayne's fifth annual Lil WeezyAna Fest at the UNO Lakefront Arena grounds in New Orleans. A crowd stampede injured several people attending a New Orleans festival organized by rapper Lil Wayne. Sophia Germer/The Advocate via AP

In this Saturday, Sept. 7, 2019 photo, Festivalgoers try to escape the crowd during Lil Wayne's fifth annual Lil WeezyAna Fest at the UNO Lakefront Arena grounds in New Orleans. A crowd stampede injured several people attending a New Orleans festival organized by rapper Lil Wayne. Sophia Germer/The Advocate via AP

In this Saturday, Sept. 7, 2019 photo, Festivalgoers try to escape the crowd during Lil Wayne's fifth annual Lil WeezyAna Fest at the UNO Lakefront Arena grounds in New Orleans. A crowd stampede injured several people attending a New Orleans festival organized by rapper Lil Wayne. Sophia Germer/The Advocate via AP

Gabriela Carballo

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By: Joseph Michel

The fifth annual edition of Lil Wayne’s semi-eponymous “Lil WeezyAna” festival was held this past Saturday, Sept. 7, and included performances from Trey Songz, Travis Scott and, of course, Lil Wayne. New to the festival this year was a move from its previous staging area Champions Square, a concert and festival area right beside the Superdome, to the ludicrously-named Festival Grounds located beside the UNO Arena. The move, while logical to accommodate the large number of attendees, may have actually been the catalyst that turned a rather peaceful day of music into a scene out of “Apocalypse Now!”

Entering the festival grounds around 3 p.m., I found the layout initially hard to figure out as no map had been provided beforehand; however, it was apparent that this year’s “Lil WeezyAna was geared for a crowd much larger than Champions Square would have been able to accommodate. But were they really prepared for a crowd that size?

At one concession tent, we were told that only cash was acceptable as credit card machines had not been distributed to all vendors yet. We were directed to the ATM, but I only saw two ATMs on site, and both already had massive queues. Concession tents sold 16 oz. bottled water for $4. I realized I had not seen any free water stations around the grounds. Most festivals that I have attended over the past few years have had a spot where festival goers could refill an empty water bottle. With temperatures in the 90s and a heat index over 105 degrees, before too long, I was back in line to buy another water. I was told the festival completely ran out of water by the time Travis Scott came on.

Looking for relief from the sun, we searched for some shade. Unfortunately, it was hard to find. Those in the shadow of the stage got some relief, but the vast majority of the crowd was not so lucky. To get to the stage, festivalgoers were funneled through a small entrance manned by a single security guard who checked wristbands. Once the sun went down, the heat subsided if only a little bit.

Performance-wise, the artists were great. Trey Songz performed his R&B hits with a multi-dimensional backing band. Meek Mill got the crowd pumped up playing hits that spanned his entire career. It was sometime after this when reports of alleged gunshots and violence led to a commotion and a massive stampede. I can’t tell for certain what exactly happened, but was informed of these events through calls from my parents and worried texts from friends. While watching Travis Scott perform, I observed many people passing out around me. Travis had to stop the show several times to ensure those individuals could receive assistance.

After Travis’ performance, my group and much of the crowd made for the exit en masse which resulted in complete chaos. We left the area to find food and beverage tents being completely ransacked. The only thing that was on my mind was to find water. That was when the harsh reality of not being able to find or purchase water came. As we were leaving, we could hear the DJ call for an ambulance as more people were overcome by the heat.

I’m not sure this particular event played into the cliche of “guns and violence” at a rap concert. Instead, I’m more of the opinion that many different factors led to the destruction that occurred. Extra precautions could have been taken to ensure the safety of all attendees, especially on a day where a heat advisory had been issued 24 hours in advance. All of this begs the question: Will Lil Weezyana Fest be back for a sixth year?

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