Thousands expected for Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge celebrations




Posted on March 2, 2012 at 8:51 AM

Updated Friday, Mar 2 at 5:45 PM

DALLAS - A big three-day party is about to get under way in Dallas to celebrate the newly-completed Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge connecting downtown Dallas with West Dallas.

With thousands expected for the early celebrations, city officials said they will limit the crowd to 6,750 tonight. While drivers will still have to wait a few more weeks until they can drive their cars across the bridge, visitors will get a chance to take a look by foot during the weekend festivities.

Lyle Lovett and His Large Band will perform a sold-out show tonight, with fireworks to follow, as the grand opening of the bridge nears. As many as 2,500 are expected to attend the concert.

Tonight's concert and gathering starts at 7 p.m. and runs through 11 p.m.

Dallas Fire-Rescue officials said Saturday will be the real challenge, with as many as 20,000 visitors expected to have passed through by the end of the day. They'll be enjoying the free Street Fair from noon until nine o'clock on the west end of the bridge.

This is the first time the city of Dallas has hosted a party from high above a suspension bridge, which presents unique challenges to keep visitors safe.

Dallas Fire-Rescue Assistant Chief Debra Carlin said they have figured the bridge's maximum capacity to be 6,750 people at any one time, and that number will be enforced. Carlin said counters will keep track of attendance at both entrances, one on each end of the bridge.

Carlin said crews have also put up fences and barricades to prevent people from getting too close to the edge of the bridge. She reminds visitors to respect those safety measures by not climbing them or allowing children to climb them.

Paramedics will be staffing medical tents throughout the day Saturday. A tent will be set up on each end of the bridge. They will be prepared to provide immediate assistance should any medical crisis arise.

Todd Fiscus, with Todd Events, reminded visitors they can find paid parking at designated lots on the west end of the bridge. On the east side, paid parking is just below below the bridge.

Fiscus said the public is allowed to come visit the city's new landmark bridge on foot,  but warned that roller blades, bicycles and skateboards are not allowed.

Dallas Fire-Rescue is planning to provide plenty of security  to keep guests safe tonight and tomorrow night, right up until the end of the fireworks displays both nights. Carlin said even those not on top of the bridge will be able to catch the shows, which are scheduled for 10:05 p.m. Friday and 9:45 p.m. Saturday.

On Saturday, the Levee Run Sprint across the bridge starts at 7:45 a.m., with the 10K and 5K following. More public celebrations on the bridge will take place from noon to 9 p.m.

Starting at 6:50 a.m. Sunday, a sunrise blessing will take place with a ribbon cutting. The bridge will be closed off to the public at 4 p.m.