TAMPA (CelebrityAccess) — Concerns over the effects of Subtropical Storm Alberto led to the cancellation of the final day of the Sunset Music Festival just hours before the gates were due to open on Sunday.
While it seemed like a sound decision – the area was under a tropical storm warning from the National Weather Service and the Governor’s office had declared a state of emergency — Alberto stayed off of Florida’s Gulf Coast, leaving Tampa with blue skies and sunshine on throughout the day.
Festival founder John Santoro said the decision to pull the plug on the festival for Sunday came from local officials.
“Local authorities had already closed all other events planned for that day and SMF held out as long as I could, with fingers crossed and a heavy heart, but LOCAL AUTHORITIES cancelled our event as well,” he wrote in a statement after the cancellation.
Still, Santoro declined to second-guess the official’s decision to cancel the event.
“You can’t reverse-engineer these decisions,” Santoro told the Tampa Bay Times. “The thing that will drive you crazy is trying to look at it from now backwards. It’s unfair to everybody. What you have to do is look at it at the time, with the information they had available to them. That’s why they’re the professionals.”
“Was everybody disappointed? Yeah, we were disappointed,” Bobby Silvest, a spokesman for the Tampa Sports Authority added. “It was going to be a great Day 2. But if all that weather had come in, it sure wouldn’t have been.”
Following the cancellation, festival organizers did their best to salvage the situation and expanded a planned after-party into four different clubs in Tampa’s Ybor neighborhood with most of Sunday’s headliners in attendance. It wasn’t a perfect solution, however.
“Trying to put 20,000 people in 3,500-capacity-total rooms,” Santoro told the Times. “There’s no workaround for that.”
Other events affected by the storm included the Tampa Bay Margarita Festival. According to the Times, officials on Saturday revoked the festival’s permit for the second day due to fears over Alberto’s impact.