MIAMI (CBSMiami) — Along with the Spring season, comes the music festival that attracts thousands to South Florida every year but there are some changes this year.READ MORE: Florida School District Defies Gov. Ron DeSantis' Ban On Masks
Ultra Music Festival is set to kick off on Friday. With that, thousands upon thousands of music lovers are set to take to downtown’s Bayfront Park.
CBS4 took a behind the scenes tour of the prep happening at the park with the new Director of Security for the event, former Miami Beach Police Chief Ray Martinez who will oversee the safety of tens of thousands of festival-goers and event staff.
“Another chapter of my career, but I’m really enjoying it. It is a different side. I’m in charge of security, but it’s also part of entertainment and part of the music industry and it’s really fascinating,” said Martinez. “Everybody whose anybody wants to be here performing or in attendance for this event,” said Martinez.
Martinez joins the party, now in it’s 17th year, after security guard Erica Mack was critically hurt after being trampled when people without tickets rushed the gates. Mack filed a lawsuit against the event promoter. The festival was almost cancelled.
Mack’s attorney issued a statement on the case on Tuesday, saying in part, “It’s great to hear that Ultra has finally begun to take steps to make the event safer but those efforts come too late for Erica Mack. Disappointingly, at this date, nearly a year after this tragic event, Ultra still has not stepped up to the plate to address Ms. Mack’s claims, claims that are not going away.”
After that, the man in charge of the security isn’t the only thing that’s changed.
“How you turn it around is you have a great event. We made a number of enhancements in the security aspect of it,” said Martinez.
Gone are the flimsy fences of year’s past. Now, the fences around the festival are 12-feet tall and reinforced with plywood so climbing is out of the question. The same fences were utilized a couple weeks ago for the Formula E race through Downtown Miami.
For the first time all attendees must be at least 18-years old. More than 300 Miami police officers will also roam the park during the event.READ MORE: State Senator Gary Farmer Says Governor’s Executive Order Preventing School Mask Mandates Is Unconstitutional
“You’re going to see lots of officers in uniform and we’re going to have officers in undercover. This is basically for your safety and for the party goers safety,” said Miami Police Dept. Sgt. Freddie Cruz.
Event organizers stress tickets can only be purchased online through the Ultra Music Festival website, so scalpers, beware!
Major headliners set to take the stage for the three day event include David Guetta, Avicii, Axwell, Skrillex, Chromeo and Deep Dish among other major names in electronic dance music (EDM).
While Martinez says he wasn’t always a fan of EDM, he did visit similar festivals around the country to see how they operate.
“I’ve started listening to it,” he confessed. “You know, EDM has really now crossed over into mainstream.”
On Friday, the festival is set to kick off at 4:00 p.m. and last until midnight. On Saturday, the festival runs from noon to midnight and on Sunday noon to 11:00 p.m.
The festival will also cause some changes in the traffic pattern in parts of downtown Miami starting Thursday.
Starting at 9:00 p.m., all southbound traffic along Biscayne Boulevard will be detoured west at NE 4 Street, to NE 2 Avenue and continue southbound on NE 2 Avenue.
All northbound traffic along Biscayne Boulevard will be reduced to two lanes and shifted to the southbound lanes at SE 1 Street. It will continue northbound until NE 4 Street, where it will be shifted back to the regular northbound lanes.
There will be no street closures but the traffic pattern will remain in effect until Sunday.MORE NEWS: President Biden Criticizes Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis
Miami Police officers will be stationed around the area to help control traffic.