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'Night of Lights' turns ugly

December 19, 2011

The “Night of Lights” last Saturday turned into a night of fights.

Unruly concert-goers drove members of the headline band off the stage by throwing objects at them, then drove them off again when the band, the Naked and Famous, tried to resume the show.

The concert was on the snow at Canyon Lodge. While attendance numbers were not immediately available, it was believed by veteran “Lights” observers to be among the largest crowds ever for the annual event.

In an effort to calm the crowd, Mammoth Mountain CEO Rusty Gregory took the stage, cautioning people to stop throwing stuff at the band.

“Rusty Gregory took to the stage and cautioned the crowd to stop throwing things,” Police Chief Dan Watson said. “After the band started playing again, more objects were thrown at the band and they walked off the stage.”

The mayhem at the concert followed a dazzling, 7 o’clock fireworks show that could be seen (and heard) throughout town.

When the smoke had cleared, the band got ready to play. It was midway through its set when things got out of hand.

“It’s too bad that a small number of people ruined what otherwise was a very nice event,” Watson said.

Amateur videographers captured some of the fights, and then posted their images on YouTube.

Among the objects thrown at the band, one YouTube eyewitness said, were beer bottles.

“I think the band did the right thing by ending their performance early,” Watson said, “and it’s too bad that those who were orderly didn’t get to hear the entire concert.”

Mammoth Mountain Ski Area had no comment as of Monday afternoon.

Security at the concert was extensive, at least by Mammoth standards.

Watson said The MLPD had all officers working on Saturday night, supported by two officers from the Bishop police department, two from the Mono County Sheriff’s Department, and six officers from the California Highway Patrol.

In addition, MMSA security had 11 working and the ski contracted with a private security firm for 10 more, Watson said.

Canyon Lodge wasn’t the only chaotic scene, Watson said.

“It was very busy in the Village later on Saturday night,” he said.

“The Hyde Lounge and Lakanuki were both at full capacity, with long lines waiting to get in.

“The Police detained several people for being drunk, but all were turned over to sober parties or driven home.

“The only arrests made by the MLPD were two for DUI.”

Watson said an investigation of the concert already has started.

“We are reviewing how the Night of Lights went and will be working with MMSA on ways to prevent some of the problems for future events,” he said.

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