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June 30, 2010

Pier Six Pavilion and the concert freeloaders

pier six pavilion. from here, you can't quite see the freeloaders,  but they're there. they're there.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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Posted by Sam Sessa at 12:43 PM | | Comments (17)
Categories: Local music


The brick path next to the Marriott is heavily used by cyclists to get from Pratt St to Aliceanna St. When crowded with freeloaders, there's barely enough room to walk, much less bike!

When I was younger my parents took me and my 2 sisters and did this all the time, only it was not as nice as it is now. It was cheaper than paying for a ticket and a babysitter We heard some great music. A highlight at the time was Jackson Browne.

I've always wanted to go to Pier Six for a concert, but my schedule has never allowed for it. I am hoping that I can go for something this year before the weather. I think police should try to keep the peace but also allow some of the people to enjoy the live music.

Taking the boat out for the Beach Boys and Willie Nelson shows in a few weeks. Always a pretty good time.

Got that, gang?

No ... at least I don't. What was the point of this? Are police cracking down somehow on the crowds?

Lucky me, I get to hear the concerts when I'm *inside* my house! For free! Though, we went on the roof for Hall & Oates!

What's the big deal, sounds to me like you're hating on boat guys because you can't afford one.

@Drunk richard -- I'm not hating on anybody (though I would never swim out in the harbor like some of these folks do). I'm just saying people do it. I worked at marinas for years growing up, and they taught me one thing about sea life: There's always a bigger boat. Oh, and boats are really expensive. Can I borrow yours?

If you got so much "boat money" why not buy a ticket to the show?

When I was a bit younger (pre-kids) my buddies and I used to put canoes in where Living Classrooms is now and paddle over to catch some free music...saw some great shows floating in the harbor...we called it "Pier 6 1/2"

So the cops don't want to ruin anybody's day? Good. Just don't videotape them or you'll find out how understanding said cops are.

Several years ago Huey Lewis called out all the boaters while on stage. I forgot exactly what he said, but something along the lines that they can afford a boat but not a ticket to his show. haha

Good stuff. I'll squat there as long I can.

hey biker- no bikes on the promenade after 10 am. So while it's annoying a bike can't fit past the freeloaders, it's irrelevant.

Probably another proposed city tax coming!!!
Can't wait to see how the police handle this same situation with the fireworks at the Inner Harbor.

Even though it felt like it was about 110 degrees under the tent Saturday, the Beach Boys rocked the house. Mike Love is almost 70 years old now. John Stamos was awesome on drums and guitar. Had a great time and yes I did pay for my tickets.

Which Sunday-night show had a higher % of concergoers in a drug-induced haze?

Sublime or Willie Nelson

What is the harm of this wonderful tradition. You only have a few seats to sell on the inside of the pavillion and it makes for an exciting show for the artist. I am saddened that they have blocked off the area that Baltimoreans had used for years to hear music. Trust me, this hurts no one...the artist love it; the pavillion is always packed and the locals have a great time...

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About Erik Maza
Erik Maza is a features reporter at the Baltimore Sun. He writes for several sections of the Sun paper and contributes weekly columns on music and nightlife. He also writes and edits the Midnight Sun blog. He often covers entertainment, business, and the business of entertainment. Occasionally, he writes about Four Loko, The Block, the liquor board, and those who practice "simulated sex with a potted palm tree." Before The Sun, he was a reporter at the Miami New Times. He's also written for Miami magazine, the Orlando Sentinel, the Sarasota Herald Tribune and the Gainesville Sun. Got tips? Gripes? Pitches? He's reachable at Click here to keep up with the dumb music he's listening to.

Midnight Sun covers Baltimore music, live entertainment, and nightlife news. On the blog, you'll find, among other things, concert announcements, breaking news, bars closings and openings, up-to-date coverage of crime in nightlife, new music, round-the-clock coverage of Virgin Mobile FreeFest, handy guides on bars staying open past 2 a.m. on New Year's Eve and those that carry Natty Boh on draft. Recurring features include seven-day nightlife guides, Concert News, guest reviews of bars and concerts, Wednesday Corkboard, and photo galleries, as well as reader-submitted photos. Thanks for reading.

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