The 104th Penn Relay Carnival is expected to attract 80,000 runners, spectators and party-goers to campus and feature the best in track and field competition. But along with the throngs and the pleasant weather, this year's Relays, as usual, will likely leave behind streets lined with empty 40-ounce beer and malt liquor bottles and hot-dog wrappers. Traffic will come to a standstill, and the Wawa convenience store at 38th and Spruce streets fearfully anticipates the pandemonium that has forced it to close several times in recent years. And when the University's Division of Public Safety and the Athletic Department join together with the Philadelphia Police Department once again this year to control crowds and enforce order, they hope to ease many of the features that have brought Relays notoriety on campus, Director of Police Operations Maureen Rush said yesterday. This year's Relays weekend promises even larger crowds near campus than in past years, Rush explained, because Dinofest -- the world's largest dinosaur exhibit, currently inside the Philadelphia Civic Center -- will be entering its last weekend just a block from the country's biggest track and field event. Rush added that a critique of last year's Relays security showed several areas in need of improvement. Last year's three-day weekend brought one aggravated assault, five robberies and 19 thefts to campus. Among the incidents was a riot at Wawa. As with last weekend's Spring Fling, University Police officers will rack up massive overtime. All officers must work a minimum of one 12-hour shift during the weekend, and most will work two, Rush said. Dozens of University Police officers working overtime will patrol the Relays themselves at Franklin Field, a step show tonight inside the Class of 1923 Ice Rink and the Busta Rhymes concert in the Annenberg Center's Zellerbach Auditorium tomorrow. This will free up Philadelphia Police officers to concentrate on controlling the crowds and traffic. Significantly increasing its forces from last year, the Philadelphia Police Department will send more than 50 officers -- from both the elite Highway Patrol and Traffic Patrol units as well as the PPD's 18th District -- to campus for the weekend, Managing Director of Public Safety Tom Seamon said. "You can safely say there have been plenty of preparations" arranged with the PPD, Seamon said. At Wawa, employees said the store for the first time was paying for a Philadelphia Police officer from the 18th District to patrol inside the store full-time tonight through early Sunday morning. Last year, about 60 people threw glass bottles, cans and food across the store, prompting managers to shut down the store for two early morning hours on Sunday, April 27. In addition, Rush said she was "very aware and dissatisfied with the quality-of-life issues" including litter-lined streets and vendors' excessively loud boom-boxes. "There is a heightened awareness of how trash and noise make people feel unsafe," Rush said. She added that a Penn parent told her that 33rd Street looked like "a third-world country" when she was driving there Sunday morning last year. The campus was not cleaned up until Physical Plant workers began work again the following Monday morning. To combat the trash problem early in the game, Rush said Trammell Crow Co., which currently manages the University's facilities services, will employ cleanup crews "all day Saturday." Also, groundskeepers from the University City District, formed last summer, will go to work early Sunday morning cleaning up debris.Comments powered by Disqus
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