NORMAN — Central Oklahoma temperatures have yet to hit the 100-degree mark this summer, but Saturday's heat was a problem for scores of people who attended the Oklahoma Twister Relief Concert at the University of Oklahoma's Gaylord Family — Oklahoma Memorial Stadium.
“The combination of hot weather and a large crowd is always problematic,” said Howard Pollack, a concert promoter with PM Group Artist Representatives. “We made announcements that cooling stations were available throughout the stadium and that free water was available.
“But the people were so excited about the talent that they didn't want to risk missing anything. That's in spite of the fact that they had reserved seats. There's often a fine line between what you do for pleasure and what you need to do to take care of yourself.”
Saturday's concert, which began at 3 p.m. and lasted until about 10:30 p.m., featured performances by Toby Keith, Garth Brooks, Trisha Yearwood, Ronnie Dunn, Willie Nelson, Sammy Hagar, Mel Tillis, John Anderson, Krystal Keith and Kellie Coffey. About 65,000 attended.
Temperatures reached 95 degrees shortly after the concert started but dropped to around 85 degrees by 9 p.m., according to the National Weather Service. Humidity was less than 50 percent.
“We had about 35 patients who were brought to the hospital with heat-related symptoms, but all were treated and released,” said Kelly Wells, spokesman for Norman Regional Health System. “There were also several hundred who needed medical care at the Gomer Jones Medical Facility at the stadium.”
Pollack, who served as promoter for events at the Oklahoma City Zoo amphitheater for many years, said when concerts are scheduled during the summertime in Oklahoma, such issues aren't uncommon.
“Our primary concern has always been to make sure that people are safe,” Pollack said. “There were more than enough medics and EMTs around and they were busy throughout the day. They were able to get most people cooled off but there were a few that did have to go to the hospital.”
Proceeds from the concert will benefit the United Way of Central Oklahoma May Tornadoes Relief Fund. An exact amount of money raised won't be available for several days.
“I've got to say it was in the millions of dollars,” Pollack said. “It's going to be a hefty sum.”