Safety concerns at Wild & Scenic Film Festival promotion
January 11, 2014
I am a parent who was asked to drive and supervise public school children on a field trip to the Del Oro Theatre — never again!
Wild & Scenic Film Festival workers told parents to drop off kids due to limited seating and pick them up at 11:45 a.m. Thursday. At 11:30 a.m., students were told to leave the theater.
Thanks to organizers of the Wild & Scenic Film Festival, hundreds of students were sent into a busy parking lot and street with only a few adults scrambling to contain them.
I have gone on many field trips. This was by far the most dangerous, worst-organized school experience I have ever had.
Every year, hundreds of public school children pay $3 each to attend screenings promoting the Wild & Scenic Film Festival. I stayed to watch this year's promo featuring a trailer and a short talk about abused elephants and one young activist's fight to help them. After the sad, graphic video, a film festival representative got on stage and said, "Thank you for coming. Please leave out these two emergency exits."
Immediately, hundreds of kids bolted to the doors, exiting out into a busy parking lot and street. Fortunately, two of the kids I drove found me at the opposite end of the theater, where most of the remaining parents were sitting. Unfortunately, the other four kids I was responsible for followed the directions given them. I had to quickly exit out the lobby, run around the building and search the back parking lot. They weren't there! I dragged the two kids I had back to the front with four kids still missing!
I asked a film festival worker for assistance; she shrugged her shoulders. I finally found them on the second trip to the busy back parking lot. Their teachers had done a great job keeping track of them.
As we drove back, I saw another parent who was just getting there at 11:45, like he was told. Most parents would be livid at the lack of safety and concern the film organizers had for our children. The kids told me that the field trip was "sad," "depressing" and "a waste of time." After this experience, my family will never go to this school event or the Wild & Scenic Film Festival.
Ashley Neumann lives in Grass Valley.