Something in the Water 2022: Security plans still unclear

Less than two weeks out from Pharrell’s Something in the Water music festival — with acts from Usher to Dave Mathews Band planning to play for Juneteenth weekend —  there are still several unanswered questions on what security plans will be in place. 

Some ticket holders claim neither the event host nor D.C. leadership has released any security plans. 

They've expressed growing anxiety about attending the event in the wake of recent violent incidents — including the mass shooting in a popular nightlife area in Philadelphia this past weekend. 

There is also a lot of excitement for the big acts —  Calvin Harris; Tyler, the Creator; plus Pharrell and friends. 

The three-day Juneteenth festival is anticipated to draw around 40,000 people, according to a Business Improvement District leader. 

FOX 5 asked D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser on Monday why security plans have not been released yet. 

"We’re several weeks out, and we will make the public aware of impacts to them whether its road closures or special accommodations, but the public safety officials are doing internal planning," she said.

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When asked whether the city can prevent an illegal gun from being brought to the event or area, the mayor said, "For sure, safety is our first concern. It is always our concern to use and enjoy our city and to support festivals, parades, and events. Next week we’ll be celebrating pride in the District, for example, where thousands of people will fill ours streets. So, our Special Events Task Force along with MPD, along with all of our public safety officials work with event organizers all year and for all events to make them safe, and the same is true for Something in the Water." 

In an emailed statement to FOX 5, Susana Castillo, a spokesperson for the mayor, wrote: 

"We are looking forward to Something in the Water Festival and are excited to host this event for our residents and visitors. Public safety is always our top priority. The District is accustomed to a high volume of major special events that require in-depth planning and coordination with our community and safety partners. As certain details continue to be finalized, we anticipate that road closure and other community updates will be made available in the coming days. Our residents and businesses are encouraged to sign up for Alert DC at or follow the Twitter page @AlertDC to get these updates in real time."

Starting June 17th, Something in the Water is expected to run along Independence Ave. Southwest from 3rd to 9th Streets Southwest. The span stretches about four city blocks. Event organizers previously said they are planning to include three stages. 

At least one city official also told FOX 5 breakout events on the side-streets were also likely to be added. 

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FOX 5 heard complaints the vendor’s website does not specifically identify where the main entrance and exit gates will be located. There are complaints the bag policy listed online may not have been emailed to ticket holders.

Only clutches and purses or see-through 12-by-6 inch bags will be allowed unless there is a medical exemption. Otherwise, the website says no backpacks will be allowed. 

Metro told FOX 5 they will expand service and add gap trains. Metro and SITW are both warning of possible overcrowding at the L’Enfant Plaza Metro Station, since that is the closest train stop to the event. 

In an email to FOX 5, Metro Spokesperson Sherri Ly wrote: 

"Metro routinely handles large-scale events, including Fourth of July on the Mall, Presidential Inaugurations, and First Amendment activity. This event will be no different. We will have expanded service on the Red Line and have extended Orange Line service to Federal Center SW (instead of Ballston) in addition to gap trains strategically placed throughout the system in the event of an unexpected maintenance issue and to alleviate crowding. MTPD will also have officers at key stations to monitor for crowding. The closest station to the event is L'Enfant Plaza; however, to avoid crowds we encourage customers to consider alternative stations such as Federal Triangle, Smithsonian, Archives, Gallery Place, Judiciary Square, Union Station or Federal Center SW which are a short walk away. It's also a good idea to travel to a station on the same line where you started to avoid transfers. 

"People can make it easy on themselves by using mobile pay for iPhone or Android. You can purchase or transfer a SmarTrip card to your device and instantly add money to your card. If you prefer to use the plastic SmarTrip card, avoid long lines at fare vending machines by loading enough value for the round-trip ahead of time. Weekend fares are a flat $2 one-way, making Metro an affordable way to get there."

None of the press contacts listed for SITW have responded to FOX 5’s requests for information. 

"You always got concerns about security," said Monko D.C. owner, Terrence White, who told FOX 5 he will be a vendor at the music festival. "You know we’re at a volatile time with today’s society with mental health, COVID, just the onset of crime itself and public safety. If the city, as well as the government and people, understand you got large crowds … Look for as far as suspicious people, packages and those things, I think we’ll be okay." 

"Just act mature as adults. That’s the biggest thing," White added.

Something in the Water 2022: DC mayor encourages residents to apply for festival jobs

Diane Watkins with the District’s Department of Employee Services told FOX 5 on Monday: 

"Nearly 1600 job seekers have applied for the opportunity to work at the Something in the Water event. Thus far, 225 candidates have been selected by the agency to continue the interview process, and 107 have been hired for the event. Applications are still being accepted, as additional candidates may be needed ahead of the event, and for future event opportunities in the District."

A Parks Service spokesperson also confirmed a permit for a First Amendment Demonstration on June 18th that requests the department allow for capacity of up to 200,000 people.