Pier Six Pavilion and the concert freeloaders

Every summer, when Pier Six Pavilion opens for the season, another annual tradition resurfaces: live music freeloading.

Folks come from all around with camping chairs, blankets and even portable grills and set up shop on pier five and the western side of President Street to soak in the live music from the downtown amphitheater without having to buy a ticket.

Some people go as far as to drift out into the harbor on floating rafts (gack!) or anchor their boats near the pavilion's waterside edge ...

While there's little the city or the venue can do about the boaters, officials generally frown on large groups of people loitering on the sidewalks, according to police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi.

The police don't mind people sitting on the benches, but they draw the line at folding chairs, blankets and especially grills.

"For public safety reasons, you don’t want to have people sprawled out on lawn chairs with blankets and grills," Guglielmi said. "It can impede traffic on both sides – pedestrian and vehicular."

If someone accidentally falls in the water, all of the freeloaders would make it hard for the police and rescue crews to get through, Guglielmi said. Typically, an officer will approach someone with a grill or chair and ask them to move. If the person doesn’t move, the officer will write them a ticket. But they’re not going to write tickets first and ask questions later.

"We're not out there to ruin anyone's day," Guglielmi said. "We’re just trying to keep everybody safe."

Got that, gang? 

(Baltimore Sun archive photo)

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