The large number of underage drinking and drug arrests during an OAR concert at Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts earlier this month is forcing park officials to reconsider having that band perform there in the future. In all, 46 arrests were made on the evening of the concert by county and park police. William Crockett, the director of Wolf Trap, said the arrests are a positive thing for Wolf Trap.
“To me, it’s positive. It means we are taking care of it. All those underage kids who were out there drinking, that activity ceased and prevented anything further from happening,” said Crockett.
“This was very rare. I’ve been here 22 years. This is in the top five worst we’ve had,” Crockett said of the arrests.
According to the Fairfax County Police Department, it became involved at the request of Wolf Trap management. During the concert, officers in plain clothes, on bicycles and in uniform made the arrests. Three people were arrested for possession of marijuana, and 26 were arrested for underage possession of alcohol. Park Police made the other arrests for similar offenses, according to Crockett.
The ages of those arrested by the Fairfax County Police Department ranged from 15 to 22, which reflects the rock band’s demographic. The suspects were released on misdemeanor summonses.
“They must have been acting pretty obvious to get caught,” said recent concert attendee Barbara Quarles. “On the lawn it’s pretty much a free-for-all for people in the middle. If they were low key, no one would have noticed them drinking,” said Quarles. Wolf Trap allows patrons in lawn seats who are of legal drinking age to bring alcohol with them and also sells alcohol at the park.
According to Crockett, the incident was not entirely unexpected. “This is a relatively new band that’s never played at Wolf Trap before. We’re trying to extend ourselves to a younger audience,” Crockett said.
BEFORE A NEW BAND is booked at the venue, officials evaluate the band to determine if it’s a fit for Wolf Trap and attempt to determine what types of activities might be generated by fans of that performance. “All of us sit down and look at what we know and how we are going to manage it. It’s all pre-planned,” said Crockett.
“Whether that audience and performer is appropriate for Wolf Trap in the future will be reviewed,” said Crockett.
OAR, which stands for “Of a Revolution,” is an independent band with four releases to its credit. The group was formed in 1998 as an Ohio State University fraternity band. Two of its members are locals from Rockville, Md.
Wolf Trap officials, according to Crockett, have worked with Fairfax County Police for three years on performances that they predetermine may be “challenging” for the Park Police alone to handle.
“We recognize there are some things we can’t do,” said Crockett, of eliminating the behaviors entirely. Parking at Wolf Trap includes satellite lots that many patrons use to tailgate before an event. Park Police regularly travel between the lots to aid and assist individuals, as well as to police the area and prohibit behaviors such as underage drinking.
“The police have a presence here. It seems like you see them all the time. They aren’t intense or anything, just everywhere,” said Jon Vandermere of Reston. “I always wondered if they could actually do anything or if they’re just there to protect the parks.”
Crockett said, “We want people to know they are welcome here, but when they come here, they need to abide by the appropriate laws and regulations. They can come here and enjoy it, but it’s not one big party.”