Park City approves large Respect Rally during Sundance
A gathering is planned during the Sundance Film Festival that is seen as a follow-up to the Women’s March on Main that brought a giant crowd to Main Street during the festival in 2017, evidence that the political left’s worries about the national political atmosphere will be on display in dramatic fashion during the festival for a second consecutive year.
The Park City Council on Thursday approved the event, billed as the Respect Rally. It is scheduled in the north end of City Park from 10 a.m. until 11:30 a.m. on Jan. 20. It is the first Saturday of Sundance, a day that is typically one of the busiest of the festival.
A City Hall report drafted in anticipation of the meeting on Thursday indicated the event could draw a crowd of between 3,000 and 7,000, but the numbers discussed at the meeting were cut to between 3,000 and 5,000. The Women’s March on Main, held on Main Street and Swede Alley in 2017, drew between 7,000 and 9,000. It was the largest demonstration in Park City’s modern history.
There will be temporary road closures impacting small sections of streets bordering City Park or just off the park starting as early as Jan. 19 at 8 a.m. The elected officials were also told a section of Park Avenue bordering City Park might be closed to traffic at some point during the event to ensure buses continue to flow.
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Cindy Levine, an organizer, told the elected officials the efforts to hold an event began “organically” and it was a busy two weeks as details were crafted.
“We want to do everything we can possible to keep the streets clear. We’ve increased our volunteers. We’ve increased our security. We’ve increased the buses,” Levine said.
She briefly compared the planned Respect Rally to the Women’s March on Main in 2017.
“We’re really excited to have an equally impactful event, just very different than last year,” Levine said.
The elected officials were told the roster of speakers at the Respect Rally could include well-known politicians in the state like Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski and Jenny Wilson, a Democrat who is campaigning for the U.S. Senate.
The City Park location is unusual for a rally. Demonstrations or rallies during Sundance over the years have more often occurred on or close to Main Street. Others with ties to individual Sundance films have been staged outside screening rooms. City Park, though, is within walking distance of numerous Sundance screening rooms or venues as well as Main Street. It is also along bus routes. Respect Rally organizers plan to provide shuttle buses that will run between Richardson Flat and City Park.
Betsy Wallace, the managing director and chief financial officer of the Sundance Institute, appeared at the meeting, telling the elected officials the event will interrupt festival operations. She said festival organizers are working with City Hall staffers and figures from the Respect Rally to ensure Sundance-goers are able to move between venues. She said Sundance champions free speech.
“Sundance supports the dialogue the rally will hopefully bring to the forefront that morning throughout our festival,” Wallace said.
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The group that represents businesses in the Main Street core of Park City formally outlined a request to close the shopping, dining and entertainment strip to traffic on Sundays in the summer and early fall.