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Chesney fans hail by land and boat

| Saturday, June 22, 2013, 12:02 a.m.
Keith Hodan | Tribune-Review
Kenny Chesney fans lounge on boats and in the Allegheny River along the North Shore, Friday, June 21, 2013, close to Heinz Field, where the country music star will perform Saturday night. Some boats have been docked along the North Shore for three weeks, so they could get a spot against the wall.

A small disco ball hung inside the cockpit of Marc Bruner's boat as it bobbed next to the seawall along the Allegheny River.

With Kenny Chesney's “No Shoes Nation Tour” rolling into Pittsburgh on Saturday, Bruner and the more than 100 people he expects to join him on the small flotilla of boats lashed together outside Heinz Field are ready to party.

“It's Mexican night tonight,” Bruner said Friday afternoon. A full taco bar, margaritas and tequila shots were planned. Cases of Corona beer were on ice inside large coolers.

“It will go until 3 or 5 in the morning. Tomorrow, you wake up and do it all over again,” he said.

Preparations for Kenny Chesney's annual concert at Heinz Field start early.

Bruner, 39, of Mt. Washington parked his boat three weeks ago, with friends taking turns watching it when he went to work as a Pittsburgh firefighter. Many boats will join before the concert, packing the docks along North Shore Riverfront Park and stretching 10 to 12 deep toward the middle of the river.

Fans arriving by land are expected to crowd parking lots near Heinz Field early Saturday.

Jordan Demaske, 21, a senior at West Virginia University in Morgantown, and his friends plan to arrive at 7 a.m. to wait in line for a tailgating spot. The show starts at 5 p.m.

“Tailgating before the concert is part of the experience of going to a Kenny Chesney concert,” Demaske wrote in an email. “The atmosphere is like nothing I'd ever been a part of before.”

Medics assigned to the Chesney concert start early, too. An ambulance will patrol the parking lots around Heinz Field starting Saturday morning, said Pittsburgh EMS Division Chief Ron Romano.

His crew for the Chesney concert includes:

• 28 medics inside Heinz Field, with six assigned to the field;

• Six ambulances near the field and at the loading dock to transport patients;

• Two medics on motorcycles to patrol the parking lots from about 1 p.m. to an hour after the show ends.

“We plan for the worst, and you hope for the best,” Romano said.

Medics responded to about 100 calls associated with the concert last year, Romano said. Not every call resulted in treatment or transport. Most calls are related to heat exhaustion or alcohol consumption. High temperatures could reach 90 degrees on Saturday and Sunday.

The entire EMS contingent volunteered — many with eyes on overtime pay — to work the concert, allowing a normal level of coverage in the rest of the city Saturday night. Chesney's concerts require a slightly larger EMS response than a typical Steelers game, officials said.

Allegheny General Hospital will add six emergency department staffers during the concert, said Dr. Thomas Campbell, chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine at West Penn Allegheny Health System. About 20 people went to AGH during the concert last year, most with either heat- or alcohol-related ailments.

Acting police Chief Regina McDonald said detail and on-duty officers will handle traffic management outside the stadium, and additional officers from other police zones will assist the North Side station with 911 calls.

Officers last year made 12 arrests and wrote 40 non-traffic citations.

“We've been doing this for years,” McDonald said. “We know there will be a crowd, and people will be having a good time.”

Aaron Aupperlee is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7986 or Staff writer Margaret Harding contributed to this report.

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