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Date: Mon, 12 Aug 2002 14:12:50 -0700
From: radtimes <email@example.com>
Subject: Grateful for the Deadheads
Grateful for the Deadheads
Fans defy expectations with good behavior at legendary Alpine Valley
By MARILYNN MARCHIONE of the (Milwaukee) Journal Sentinel staff
Aug. 3, 2002
East Troy - The Night of the Living Dead was no horror show.
In fact, Saturday's Terrapin Station reunion concert of the living members
of the legendary '60s band the Grateful Dead followed script like a fairy-tale.
There were no traffic jams around the Alpine Valley Music Amphitheatre, few
arrests or complaints from area residents . . . and 35,000 happy, tie-dyed
The concert featured its signature party animals, the kind of event that
draws women with hairy legs and men with purses.
Megan Wendling, 23, of Pittsfield, Mass., wandered through the crowd
wearing a gauzy top, long skirt and a sign that said "Free Hugs." Guys
lined up for a turn.
"The Grateful Dead have been known for going in and giving people hugs,"
she said of the band that formed long before she was born.
Officials were just happy that nobody wound up dead, hurt or mad.
Or naked. Walworth County Sheriff David Graves (no Deadhead despite his
name) had predicted that hundreds would be skinny-dipping in nearby Lake
Geneva and that the two-lane county roads would be choked with rowdy
Instead, he got a mellow crowd of mostly aging hippies - many of them
raising kids, not hell. They had crochet halter tops, patchwork skirts,
granny dresses and dreadlocks, but also cell phones, jobs, cars and mortgages.
"Everybody's so much older," said Kelly Sineni, 32, of Algonquin, Ill. "I
have three kids at home and a husband."
Pam Hill, 27, and a friend brought their 5-year-old daughters to the show,
making the 17-hour drive with half a dozen friends from Massachusetts.
"We've been bringing them to festivals since they were 1," she said, as the
girls danced, their heads covered in bandannas and their Mardi Gras beads
swinging. "I was probably right out of high school when I started going to
see the Dead, and I just got into it. Then I had a baby and decided she
should go, too."
The event was billed as a reunion not just for the band, but for fans, too.
And if they gave a prize for whoever had traveled farthest, Kinya and
Misako Sato would have to walk away with it.
The couple flew to Chicago on Wednesday from Hokkaido, Japan, and drove 300
miles to St. Louis to see one of the original Deads perform. On Saturday,
they were dressed in tie-dyed shirts at Alpine Valley for the reunion
concert, saying it cost them about 10 months' wages from their jobs in a
computer store and as a nurse to afford the trip.
"There are very nice Japanese Deadheads," Kinya Sato said.
"Many, many," his wife added.
Barbara ("but call me Barbie") Beyer, 37, of St. Charles, Ill., cut an
image in a tie-dyed dress stretched taut against her bulging belly, seven
months pregnant with her third child.
"I was pregnant with my first during the last Jerry show before he died in
1995, so I wasn't able to drink then, either," she said, referring to the
band's most well-known member, Jerry Garcia.
She said she had gone to 35 to 40 Grateful Dead concerts, most of them with
"A Dead show was one of our first dates," she said.
Concert organizers credited extensive planning, safety precautions and the
Internet, which helped them spread the warning that anyone without a ticket
would be turned away. That happened to fewer than 200 fans - far fewer than
"We had a very successful concert event here today," Graves said. "I think
we have to credit fans as well as all the planning" for avoiding any
problems for area residents.
"They've been protected properly, and I think the peace has been
maintained," he said.
"We're very happy with the way the afternoon has transpired," said Larry
Wethers of Clear Channel Entertainment, the concert's promoter. "It's a
very unique event for the music and entertainment industry," and it bodes
well for prospects of an East Coast tour in November whose dates were
announced tentatively, depending on the outcome of the Alpine Valley show.
As of late Saturday afternoon, there were 60 drug citations, all but six of
them for possessing minor quantities of marijuana. Eleven people were
jailed, six complaints of trespassing were received, and three of loitering.
Residents join in
Most residents joined the crowd instead of fighting it.
Twelve-year-old Aaron Greetham stood in a bright yellow shirt, waving an
equally bright yellow poster-board that said "Jerry lives!" near the corner
of County D and Highway 120, about a mile from the theater entrance.
"We were trying to get business, so I figured I'd get attention," he said,
pointing to a table with an umbrella where he and family friends were
selling peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, sodas and bottled water.
His parents were working the show - mom as a Lake Geneva police officer,
dad as a crisis intervention expert.
"He works with the people who are drunk or on drugs," Aaron explained.
But there was blissfully little work to do. Graves quietly sent much of his
staff home, long before the opening guitar riffs at 8 p.m. And he's hoping
for a repeat at the second sold-out show today.
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