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Stranded boomboxes in Point State Park draw bomb squad

Megan Guza
| Saturday, May 26, 2012, 12:57 a.m.

The city bomb squad responded early Friday to a report of a "suspicious package" on a pedestrian walkway in Point State Park, but the package turned out to be the remnants of a social-media-fueled dance party phenomenon.

The squad found four boomboxes taped together in the incident that briefly closed the Fort Pitt and Fort Duquesne bridges. The powerful portable radios were used on Thursday night in a mobile party, called a Decentralized Dance Party, in which participants in cities nationwide broadcast music from an iPod through radios that all use the same FM frequency.

Organizers of the Decentralized Dance Party here said about 200 people participated around the Point Fountain and under the Point's Portal Bridge, which carries traffic over Point State Park and has a walkway underneath.

Police believe someone left the boomboxes behind on the Portal Bridge walkway. They said a bomb squad robot determined the package to be safe, and it was removed. Officials said they are not pressing charges, although a park official said a decision will be made as to whether organizers would be cited.

Two friends in Vancouver, Canada, who go by the names Tom and Gary, are credited with starting the Decentralized Dance Party. Decentralizeddanceparty.com asserts that "partying is the most misunderestimated artistic medium in existence" and says the goal behind it is to take the party to "every country in the world." Tom and Gary visit an itinerary of cities, living on donations. Word of the parties primarily spreads through social media. Participants wear cheesy business attire.

The party, which eschews alcohol, stops today in Washington and on Wednesday in Boston, the website states. When all of its scheduled cities are visited, Decentralized Dance Party's goal is to hold a simultaneous world dance party.

Point State Park manager Mathew Greene said park officials were unaware of the event, although the city requires permits for gatherings of more than 20 people.

Park guidelines specify that no events or gatherings can take place on the Portal Bridge, he said. Pittsburghers in attendance said the crowd was well-mannered.

"All 120-plus boomboxes really made for a loud, full sound with plenty of bass," said Dylan Holt, 27, of Mt. Washington. "Pittsburgh needs more innovative events like this as an alternative to going to the bars week after week."

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