Woodstock's Fiery End Burns Rome Mayor

Woodstock's Fiery End Burns Rome Mayor

As Woodstock '99's organizers continue to assess the monetary damage done during the festival's riotous closing night, city officials in the small New York town that played host to the three-day event are attempting to assess less tangible damage, such as the impact on the city's morale and reputation.| This morning, Rome mayor Joe Griffo, who had been one of the primary advocates for bringing Woodstock to his city, expressed his doubts about Rome's willingness to host another large rock festival, let alone another Woodstock.

"I don't want the community to bury its head in the sand and not be willing to put on big events in the future," Griffo said. "But if this is what's becoming of Woodstock as we approach the new millenium, then obviously I don't think a lot of communities are going to be opening their arms to host an event such as this or any type of concert that does this.

"It's kind of like being in a heavyweight prize fight," he said. "You go the twelve rounds and it's hard to say whether or not you want a rematch, if you're still standing at the end."

But the city of Rome has more immediate concerns than the next Woodstock festival. On Monday, the seven people who were accused of criminal activity in connection with Sunday's melee were arraigned on charges including criminal mischief, riot, petit larceny and disorderly conduct. According to Eleanor T. Coniglio, chief clerk for the Rome City Court, two of the accused pled guilty to disorderly conduct, and each was sentenced to five days in Oneida County jail and required to pay a $45 fine. The remaining five have not yet entered their pleas and are set to return to court over dates spanning from tomorrow morning until October 8.

"I think they're thugs," Griffo said of the seven accused. "And I hope they get punished appropriately because those people are the ones that wrecked it for almost a quarter of a million people. And I wish I had an opportunity to see these young people eye-to-eye. If I would have known they were [in the court], I would have made my way down just to eyeball these kids and to ask what went through their heads to be so violent in the end."

Griffo was careful to point out that those involved with orchestrating Woodstock '99 aren't pointing fingers at each other, but he did cast blame toward one of the musical acts. He said: "I thought the [Red Hot] Chili Peppers acted somewhat irresponsibly at the end of their set on that night. They could have done [something] to quell [the situation] and Anthony [Kiedis] went out and just kind of said, 'Hey, it looks like Apocalypse Now out there.' And that was so unnecessary and really endangering in my opinion and shows a total disregard for their fans."

While he deferred to Woodstock co-promoters Michael Lang and John Scher on the issue of actual monetary losses, Griffo did say that "the state police put an estimate of about a million dollars as to the total damages." And, echoing Scher's statement earlier this morning, he explained that there had been no damages to any "permanent structures."

"I think right now the effort needs to be made for people to work together to bring this whole thing to closure."