Dominick Calsolaro

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Changes coming to Albany's Alive at Five

Published on 6/2/2009 by the Channel 10 News

As it enters its twentieth year, "Alive at Five" is getting revamped as the City of Albany prepares to make some changes to the summer concert series to make it safer for attendees.

The seasonal Thursday night events, at the Corning Preserve, offer free summertime entertainment including music, food and drinks. Some concert goers, however, have too many drinks while at the event and then drive home.

"A night out is a great night out," said Sgt. Lenny Crouch of the Albany County Stop DWI Program, "but when you overindulge and you put others at risk, that's a real tragedy."

During a random DWI sweep last year, 32 people were arrested in just four hours; about one every ten minutes. Not all of those motorists, though, were coming from the Alive at Five concerts. Still, District Attorney David Soares promised a crackdown on Albany's free music shows, saying that they were placing people in jeopardy.

A Times Union article from September 15, 2008 stated that Soares "called for alcoholic beverages to be banned" from Albany's free music concerts - something that he now denies.

"I don't believe that I said there should be no alcohol there.

That was certainly a misquote," the District Attorney said Monday.

Whatever Soares said back then, he and Mayor Jerry Jennings are currently standing shoulder-to-shoulder on new resolutions regarding the safety of Alive at Five.

Mayor Jennings (D) has rejected calls to ban alcohol at the concerts, opting instead for several new safety procedures. For instance, all staff and volunteers at Alive at Five must receive three hours of training to identify and handle intoxicated people. Five taxi cabs will also be on hand to give the worst of them free rides home

"We want people to understand," Jennings said, "we're on the same page when we're talking about personal responsibility and safety at these events."

Tickets to buy alcohol at the concerts will still be limited to five, but police say they will have new machines to detect if you have alcohol in your Gatorade or your soda; a method that is said will be used only in the most extreme of circumstances.

In addition, designated drivers will get the chance to win Mets or Yankees.

Albany Common Council member Dominick Calsolaro (D), however, still wants beer outlawed at Alive at Five.

"To our youth, it sends a double message that it's okay for the government, at their events, they can sell beer, that's ok, but for us to go to a prom or another event, it's not ok to have alcohol," Calsolaro said.

Calsolaro tried to get the rest of the Albany Common Council to go along with his proposed ban on alcohol at the concerts, but the measure went nowhere.