Backpacks Banned at Major Upstate Festival - WSPA.com

Backpacks Banned at Major Upstate Festival

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SPARTANBURG, S.C. -

In light of the Boston Marathon bombings, police across the Upstate are boosting security measures at area festivals, including a backpack ban at one of the area's biggest events.

Simpsonville Police Chief Steve Moore said his agency has made the decision to ban all backpacks at this year's Aloft festival (formerly known as Freedom Weekend Aloft).

"Security is all we've thought about for the past two weeks ... ever since those bombs went off in Boston," the chief said Wednesday morning.

Aloft, sponsored by the Greenville Health System, attracts tens of thousands of people each year, and this year the event is scheduled for May 24-27.

People attending the event have always been screened at a checkpoint, and security personnel would do a quick search of any bags being brought in, but this year, attendees will be turned away if they try to bring in a bag, Moore said.

Moore said his department has also asked for the help of the S.C. Law Enforcement Division which will be lending its mobile command center to Simpsonville for the weekend.

In addition, Moore said extra officers from his department will be working, and he's considering whether to ask surrounding departments to help provide extra security.

Moore said he'll also provide officers on bicycles this year -- something that hasn't happened in years past.

In Spartanburg, officers there have also taken extra steps to enhance security at this weekend's Spring Fling which starts Friday at 4 p.m.

According to a release from Spartanburg Public Safety, the event will feature additional officers, more security cameras and increased surveillance. A mobile command center will also be set up in advance of the festival.

"We are reminding everyone that this is smoke free event and no pets are allowed inside the event footprint," the release states.  "We are also asking everyone to refrain from bringing large bags and book bags to the festival."

Cpt. Art Littlejohn with Spartanburg Public Safety says the upgrades are something the department has talked about in the past, but after Boston, they decided to implement the changes starting this year.

"To ensure the public that we're doing everything we can to make the event safe," Littlejohn said.

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