Sydneysiders are being urged to make a plan and celebrate safely ahead of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade this weekend, NSW Police say.
Hundreds of thousands of spectators are expected to line Oxford and Flinders Streets on Saturday (4 March 2017), as thousands of people and a myriad of rainbow floats make their way through Darlinghurst in an extravagant celebration of diversity.
Police will conduct a high-visibility operation in the Sydney CBD to ensure the safety and security of all participants, spectators and the wider community throughout the event.
Operation Commander, Acting Assistant Commissioner Tony Crandell, said police have been working extensively with parade organisers, in addition to other key stakeholders, to ensure a safe and successful event for everyone involved.
“Thousands of locals and tourists descend on Sydney as Mardi Gras fever takes over the CBD each year so maintaining public safety during this world-class event is our priority,” Acting Assistant Commissioner Crandell said.
“In the lead up to this weekend’s event, we’ve been engaging with Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras staff to discuss and implement the best possible strategies for a positive and enjoyable celebration.
“With significant crowds expected police will be focused on security and ensuring the safe passage of people via public transport hubs before, during and after the parade,” Acting Assistant Commissioner Crandell said.
“We’re focused on maintaining a safe and fun atmosphere for the parade; however, we will not tolerate anyone who risks their safety or the safety of others with foolish behaviour.
“Police will, therefore, be keeping an eye out for anyone taking or distributing illicit drugs, and those engaged in alcohol-related crime or anti-social behaviour.”
The entire event footprint is an Alcohol-Free Zone, which effectively prohibits the consumption of alcohol in any public place.
“Police have the power to confiscate and dispose of alcohol that is being, has been, or is likely to be consumed in an Alcohol-Free Zone,” Acting Assistant Commissioner Crandell said.
“A warning to those thinking of bringing alcohol into the area – you can expect to be intercepted by police and should you refuse to cooperate, it can attract a fine in excess of $2000.
“It’s also an offence to consume alcohol on Sydney Trains property and we will have officers from the Police Transport Command patrolling trains, stations and transport hubs throughout the event.”
Further information on Alcohol-Free Zones in Sydney can be found on the City of Sydney website: www.cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au.
Given the significant crowds expected in the Sydney CBD, anyone heading to the event is urged to plan their trip ahead of time to avoid disappointment.
“Sydney traffic will be affected with a large number of major road closures in place to facilitate the parade, so your best bet is to leave the car at home and utilise public transport services,” Acting Assistant Commissioner Crandell said.
“Some roads will begin closing from 3pm while other major closures along and around the parade route will come into place from 5pm.
“However, additional train and bus services will be in place to transport parade participants and spectators to and from the city,” Acting Assistant Commissioner Crandell said.
“When making your way to the parade route you’re best to travel from Central Railway Station up Elizabeth Street toward Oxford Street as City Circle stations will be very busy and Museum Railway Station will be closed from 5pm.
“Also remember special event clearways will be in affect across a number of major roads in the CBD so check signs before parking your car as it may be towed and fines apply.”
Motorists are advised to avoid the area if possible, exercise patience and be prepared for delays. For all special event traffic information and live traffic reports, visit www.livetraffic.com.
Use the ‘Trip Planner’ via www.transportnsw.info/ to plan your journey to the parade, with all the latest timetable and ticketing information for trains, buses, ferries and taxi ranks available.
Police will target any illegal commercial activity in and around the parade route and spectator areas.
“We have previously seen hawkers set up areas where they sell numerous items including crates or other seating,” Acting Assistant Commissioner Crandell said.
“These items are often illegally obtained and present a serious safety risk so anyone engaging in this sort of activity will be spoken to by police.”
Sydneysiders are reminded that the lockout laws will remain in place this weekend.
In addition, all NSW bottle shops, liquor stores and venues will be prohibited from selling take-away alcohol after 11pm.
“The majority of locals will be familiar with the alcohol laws. This doesn’t mean you can’t have a great night, but I urge people to plan ahead. If you’re drinking, don’t drive – know where you’re going, how you’re getting there and how you’re travelling home,” Acting Assistant Commissioner Crandell said.
Visit the official event website for more information about the parade, and after party: https://www.mardigras.org.au.