Two months after a California mall was closed following a devastating fire, authorities had to close it again Monday night after Christmas singers clogged the shopping center.
“The enthusiasm for the Hallelujah event tonight was far greater than anticipated by organizers,” said a statement from the Westfield Galleria at Roseville. “Out of an abundance of caution, the center was evacuated. We apologize for this inconvenience.”
The Sacramento Choral Society was holding what police called a “well-publicized” event to sing the “Hallelujah Chorus” in the mall’s food court, scheduled for 7:30 p.m. (read the full CNN article here or an arts administrator’s take on it here)
The trouble here is that the organization publicized a “surprise” event. While yes, you do want people to show up, that’s really not going to be too big of a concern during the high point of Christmas shopping season. This is what happens when a brilliant concept goes bad:
“At 6:45 p.m., the Roseville Police and Fire communications center received reports that people in the food court heard popping noises and felt floor movement,” a police statement said.
Having the police called in to shut down their event is probably not what they were aiming for! Lesson learned here: if you have to publicize a “surprise,” don’t broadcast it on the home page of your website. Tell select media outlets or select groups who may join you at the event instead. For safety’s sake.