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Officials talk safety ahead of Gulf Coast Jam this weekend

Updated: Jun. 1, 2021 at 10:51 PM CDT
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PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - While a lot of planning went into setting up Gulf Coast Jam, a lot of planning also went into safety as we emerge from the pandemic. Executive Producer Rendy Lovelady considers the three-day festival the first mega-event Panama City Beach has seen since COVID.

“We’re basically trying to provide an environment based on the best way we possibly can, dealing with 25,000 people,” said Lovelady.

Lovelady said their COVID safety precautions have evolved over the last couple of months with the changing guidelines from the CDC and Governor Ron DeSantis. While we can expect things like hand sanitation stations at the entrance, there will also be new additions like a cashless system and a daily COVID questionnaire before people enter.

“We sit in the room with people from Homeland Security, from the Bay County Sheriff’s Department [Office], from the [Beach] P.D., from the city, to the city manager, so all the parts trying to decide the best way to be safe,” said Lovelady.

Staying safe is Panama City Beach Police Chief J.R. Talamantez’s number one priority, even before COVID.

“We just want to make sure the people attending the event, as well as the people visiting our town at the same time, get the best public safety service possible,” said Talamantez.

A service they work with the Bay County Sheriff’s Office to carry out.

“They [BCSO] focus on one aspect of the event and we focus on another aspect and then we combine efforts on several aspects,” said Talamantez.

Talamantez said this team effort is how they find success.

“There’s really not many scenarios that we haven’t already thought of,” said Lovelady.

“We could probably see a couple of medical calls, an increase in traffic accidents, congestion,” said Talamantez.

Talamantez said overall this event brings a crowd they want to see on the Beach.

“They’re respectful for the most part, but you know we deal with the 1% and the 1% is the ones that want to ruin it for everyone else. So, we’ll deal with those people when they come,” said Talamantez.

Some safety tips both Talamantez and Lovelady offer are to wear sunscreen in the sun and drink lots of water to stay hydrated.

“I’m sure our EMS and firefighter brothers and sisters over there would probably echo that,” said Talamantez.

And the biggest thing, Talamantez says is to not get behind the wheel if you’ve been drinking.

“If you’re going to drink, drink responsibly. Understand that just because you’re here for a party, doesn’t mean that the party needs to get you to a point where it’s going to follow you for the rest of your life,” said Talamantez.

Both say for the most part they expect a successful, but safe weekend.

“We are ready to do Gulf Coast Jam,” said Lovelady.

We reached out to Bay County Sheriff’s Office officials, who weren’t available to be interviewed Tuesday.

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