A massive crush of visitors to Roosevelt Island's annual cherry blossom festival prompted the NYPD to ask the MTA to cut subway service to the island on Saturday afternoon. One attendee who was stuck on an escalator at the Roosevelt Island subway station for 30 minutes said, "It was really hot. I was worried someone would pass out."

The peak-blooms cherry blossom trees at Four Freedoms Parkand the beautiful spring weather appeared to be an irresistible combination for thousands of people. Soon, a chaotic logjam of people trying to visit Roosevelt Island—or leave Roosevelt Island—emerged.

Dominic McKenzie started his subway trip to Roosevelt Island from Brooklyn at 2:30 p.m. and arrived at the Roosevelt Island station at 3:30 p.m. When he and his friends got out of the train and saw the crowds, they thought, "Why did we even bother to come?"

"We were standing on the escalator for 30 minutes. There were several parents with babies, who eventually forced their way down and went back on the train," McKenzie said. He added, "It was really hot. I was worried someone would pass out."

McKenzie and his friends stood on their tiptoes to see what was happening ahead, they realized part of the problem was that the station's lone exit had only four turnstiles and an emergency exit, not enough to handle the crowds. "Everybody was trying to get out, and"—on the outside—"everybody was trying to get in," he said. When they finally got out of the station, McKenzie explained, "There were so many freaking people standing there—hundreds—waiting" to enter the station.

Larry Au captured how frightening it was to be on the escalator in the station:

Au had gotten to the festival a little earlier, at 2:15 p.m. "[We] spent a half hour walking around. There were five lines for bag checks/wand scans but people were just going around them since the lines for security was very long, so it was mostly for show," he said. "They were definitely overwhelmed with the number of people who showed up."

When he got to the station, Au recalled, "t took about 25 minutes to get from ground level onto the train platform... I think [the MTA and the cherry blossom festival organizers] just underestimated turn out and didn’t put enough staff in place in the subway stop. The bottleneck that was in the video was probably the most dangerous part of it. Had someone not shouted for someone to stop the escalator, and had someone not listened and did that, there could have been a crush and pile up. There was only one MTA staff member to be seen and they were in the booth on the phone, probably phoning in asking for more staff."

McKenzie, who was at the station 30 minutes later, noticed some MTA staff doing crowd control, "They were really nice. They understood the frustration."

The MTA announced that trains would not be stopping at Roosevelt Island at 4:45 p.m.

Service was restored 10 minutes later:

McKenzie and his friends decided to stay on Roosevelt Island. "We didn't really have a choice," he said. "To get on the ferry, there was a crowd. To get on the tram, there was a crowd. To get on the train, there was crowd. We had no other options."

That's how many other visitors felt:

The situation also frustrated residents:

But at least the cherry blossoms look nice? "I guess," McKenzie said. He and his friends were on the boardwalk, trying to brace themselves for the trip back.

Update: Some attendees have take to the Roosevelt Island Cherry Blossom Festival's Facebook, comparing it to Fyre Festival and lamenting the lack of food vendors. "One recapped the events, "Successfully hyped event > multitude came > event management under prepared > no signage and instructions at strategic places to guide visitors > no food vendors as advertised -(just 1) among 4 eateries, Cornel cafeteria closed early > uncoordinated weekend logistics between FDR FF Park and MTA thus > people were packed waiting at wrong platforms for as long as 45 minutes until they get to the right one by word of mouth > so instead of a smooth stream of travellers passing into the Roosevelt train entrance, a throng, so thick, technically plugged the exit > then arrived late to a "festival" ready for 150 peeps instead of 1000+. I made the most of my 3 hours (1hr walking around enjoying the blossoms/sceneries, 2 hours waiting on lines - to restroom, at Starbucks and at subway station to leave the event, uuuuuuhhhhh!"

"The worst experience ever!! Blossoms were fine. It’s a festival and there’s no food or drinks. No food trucks?! But the worst part is leaving the island!" another person exclaimed. "Who ever arranged this did not anticipate the number of people attending. The wait for train, ferries, and tram were so long. You’ll be waiting there forever. Then trying to get a Lyft/Uber was impossible. My rides kept getting dropped. I didn’t understand why. Then we decided to take a bus out of the island, just to get out of there. And the only bus we can take out of there goes to Queens. So we did. We’re packed like sardines in the bus. Luckily, the bus had AC. We squeezed ourselves in there. We realized as the bus was crossing the bridge, the police blocked the way to come in to the island. So no cars were coming in. That’s why my rides were getting cancelled. Anyway we got off Queens Plaza and hopped on the E train to get back to Manhattan. It felt like an apocalypse happened! Waited for almost 3 hours just to get out! Never ever again!!!"

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