By Madeline Orton
It’s glamorized by celebrities and popular at electronic dance music festivals. Now “molly” and it’s close relative ecstasy also the cause of the majority of 34 overdoses, none fatal, and 42 drug-related arrests during last weekend’s Electric Adventure festival in Seaside Heights.
Al Della Fave is Public Affairs Director for the Ocean County Prosecutor’s office.
“It basically is popular because it enhances their experience,” said Della Fave. “It is not safe. It’s a synthetic-type drug and we don’t know who’s mixing up the batch, so every time you take that product, you’re kind of rolling the dice with your life.”
Despite security pat-downs at the entrance, molly and ecstasy still made it into the event. And that’s not uncommon.
Electric Zoo, an EDM festival in New York, was cut short last year after molly resulted in two deaths. This year, Electric Zoo attendees will be required to watch a PSA on the drug’s dangers.
Electric Adventure founder John D’Esposito says the problem is not unique to the genre. And he insists every precaution was taken to ensure safety.
“During the festival, we had hired an on-staff EMS doctor, we hired a risk management supervisor, all to work with local authorities,” said D’Esposito. “We ran the tightest search that we could have.”
Shelby Silva is an EDM fan and attended Electric Adventure last weekend.
“Guards just really—they do a quick pat-down. They don’t do anything really thorough. Girls will put it in their shirts or something. It’s very easy, they could just slip it in their pocket and nobody will notice it really,” said Silva.
D’Esposito says the company learned of the number of incidents from the Prosecutor’s office Monday, but during the event he saw no concerns. And that the percentage of attendees with issues is a small one.
The problem now is the cost. Keeping state police, K-9s, and SWAT teams on patrol for a major event like this has a price.
“The prosecutor now is tabulating the cost of that response. We do understand that the event organizers had insurance. He is going to look at some of the legal avenues we have for maybe recouping some of those costs,” said Della Fave.
And the question is: will Seaside Heights take on the event again?
“Prosecutor Coronato is probably not going to allow this type of event to come back to the area. And that’s a shame,” said Della Fave. “What’s disappointing to me, is the black eye that it gives that genre of music. I mean some of the music is really good.”
“Were going to work with the Ocean County Prosecutor. That’s an important relationship for us to have, to have his support and have his blessing to to have a better understanding of how we can fight this together,” said D’Esposito.
Boardwalk businesses are not in agreement about whether Electric Adventure is an overall positive for the area. But after Superstorm Sandy and a boardwalk fire, they all could use a popular and safe event.