drugs and crime |
Sunday June 23, 2002 16:18 by cropper
The solstice celebration at stonehenge went off peacefully, with around 23,000 people gathering around the stones (not the 4,000 mentioned above!! - last year the official figures were 14,000).
the night was full of fun, apart from the stupid security who caused no end of hassle searching people at the final checkpoint and turning away people with rucksacks (an english heritage stipulation).
large coal burners had been provided by eng heritage around the outside of the field and this year the King's Drummers samba style band were escorted around the site and provided with fire marshalls and a specially roped off area for their kit - all part of the creeping sanitisation of the event as it continues to grow.
people left the actual stones at around 8.30 am after announcements (the official deadline to leave was at 7am). as the police and security slowly moved across the field and through the stones, people kept a lighthearted atmosphere and there was only one or two minor instances of pushing and shoving. many were mindful of the continuing 'peace process' and attempts to negotiate with the police and authorities for a permitted free festival site for next year (an initiative to be watched closely) - the cops say they only arrested 11 people for being drunk or possessing drugs.
back in the huge car park area, free food was given out, rinky dink bicycle sound system provided some entertainment as people continued partying, while others huddled around a number of tv sets on top of vehicles to watch the demise of englands world cup football hopes as police helicopters hovered overhead.
NB re the update above - It was Avebury that was sealed off last night after many people headed there after stonehenge. the atmosphere in the village seemed chilled, but police were intent on not allowing more people to gather.
as cops in riot suits (but without the kit) strolled around the main stone circle field telling people that their vehicles would be impounded if they weren't moved, a druid ceremony started in the opposite field at 8pm.
by saturday morning many of the vehicles had left Avebury for the site of a free party / festival just north of Bath, off the A46 - dunno how that's going but assume it should run for the next couple of days.