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BLINK — the four-day light, art and projection mapping show — is back in Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky this Oct. 13-16. Here's everything you need to know, from getting around to details on our silent disco Oct. 15.

Cincinnati police say it's 'all hands on deck' for BLINK

A man stands before the Toy Heritage mural at night. The mural is partially lit with computer graphics displayed on it.
Bill Rinehart
/
WVXU
A technician works on the computerized light projection mapping on the Toy Heritage mural at Court and Race streets, Tuesday night.

Cincinnati Police say the BLINK festival this weekend will be an "all hands on deck" event for them. Captain Doug Wiesman says that extends to all city departments. The emergency operations center will be running, and special response teams like SWAT will be deployed.

“You have seen what’s happened nationally, throughout the country at different parades, different events where cars have run into folks on the street. We have it locked down pretty well for the parade,” he says. “But the Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights it’s impossible to completely secure that large of a footprint, so we ask people to be careful and safe. But if you see something, say something.”

Wiesman says there will be plenty of officers in the BLINK areas.

An estimated 1.3 million people visited the four nights of BLINK in 2019. Wiesman says they're expecting at least that many again this year.

He says if places are overcrowded or the flow of people is interrupted, they'll shut things down until it's safe again.

That includes the Roebling Suspension Bridge between Cincinnati and Covington. So many people were walking across it in 2019, many people felt it sway. The Roebling will again be closed to vehicular traffic. Southbound pedestrians will use the west side walkway, while those going from Kentucky to Ohio will be directed to the east side walkway, to improve the flow.

Advice for getting around safely

Some Covington streets will close at 7 p.m. Downtown Cincinnati streets will start closing at 6:30 p.m. each of the four nights. Wiesman says navigating won't be easy.

“If you live or work Downtown, and you’re not coming to the event, (or if) you’re just working Thursday or Friday night and want to get out of Downtown, my recommendation to you is no later than 6 o’clock, please either be in your spot Downtown or be out of Downtown.”

He says beyond the street closures, the expected hundreds of thousands of pedestrians will make driving difficult.

“If you find yourself sort of trapped, drive slowly, try to summon an officer as best you can, and we will safely get you out of the event site.”

There will be access to parking garages, but organizers recommend taking Metro or TANK.

Both Metro and TANK are offering free fares on all four nights of the light and art festival.

“Go to the websites, plan your trip. Give yourself plenty of time to get down here.” Wiesman says. “Have a plan of where you’re going to park. Have a plan for how you’re going to get home. Please take a picture of your car and where you’re parked.”

Wiesman says officers have to help a number of people during big events who've lost their cars.

Cincinnati Police will be escorting the streetcar again. It will run only on the northern loop on Thursday night, so not to interfere with the parade route on 5th Street. The streetcar will run the entire route, from Findlay Market to The Banks on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Police are also worried about children getting lost. Wiesman says it’s very easy to get separated in the BLINK crowds. “If you’re bringing young kids down with you, maybe with a marker … write your phone number, your cell number on their hand so we can call you if we find your young kid,” he says. “Instruct your children, find somebody of authority immediately.” He says that can be an officer, or a 3CDC ambassador.

Wiesman estimates 30 children were separated and reunited with their parents at the 2019 event.

Police say don’t bring drones. Wiesman says FAA rules already prohibit flying drones over crowds. “If you bring a personal drone down, we do have the technology to track that drone,” he says. “We will be paying a visit to the drone pilot operator and asking them to land it.”

There is a drone show over the Ohio River Thursday at 9 p.m. and 10:30 p.m., and at 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights. It will be visible from both the Covington and Cincinnati banks, just west of the Roebling Suspension.

Bill Rinehart started his radio career as a disc jockey in 1990. In 1994, he made the jump into journalism and has been reporting and delivering news on the radio in markets including Omaha and Lincoln, Nebraska; Sioux City, Iowa; Dayton, Ohio; and most recently as senior correspondent and anchor for Cincinnati’s WLW-AM.