Miami-Dade County

Ultra’s beats can be felt for miles, residents say. Does it bother them? It depends

Rosana DeSanti and her dog “Toronto” 7 infront of their place the Metropolitan on the final day of Ultra Music Festival on Virginia Key on Sunday, March 31., 2019.
Rosana DeSanti and her dog “Toronto” 7 infront of their place the Metropolitan on the final day of Ultra Music Festival on Virginia Key on Sunday, March 31., 2019. for The Miami Herald

As a mother of five, Yvonne Calvo, 45, says she already has plenty to worry about.

But after coming home from work Friday, the Silver Bluff resident had an unexpected visitor: The pulsing beat coming from Ultra Music Festival. It’s a guest that she realized was planning on staying for three whole nights.

Although the festival is being played about 4.75 miles away on Virginia Key as the crow flies, she said she has been able to hear the concert clear as day.

“It’s pretty loud,” she said. Even after passing out around 1 a.m., she said, she could still feel vibrations.

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Yvonne Calvo and her daughter Kayley Calvo, 4, at their home on the Final day of Ultra Music Festival, Virginia Key, Miami on Sunday 31st., 2019. Alexia Fodere for The Miami Herald

Yet speaking with residents and workers who live close to Virginia Key, a mixed picture emerges of just how bothersome the festival and its new home, following nearly two decades at Bayfront Park, has been.

Tens of thousands of festival goers chose to leave Ultra Music Festival by waiting in long lines for transportation or walking more than 3 miles over the Rickenbacker Causeway in Virginia Key, Florida on Sunday, March 31, 2019.

Melina Brito, 40, lives just across the street from Calvo in Silver Bluff. Like Calvo, she can hear the music. But she said she was not bothered by it. In fact, she said, she preferred the new location, given the traffic tie-ups that often occurred along the Bayfront during past festivals. Even with an festival shuttle stop at nearby Vizcaya Museum & Gardens, which has caused some festival-goers to wander through her neighborhood, she said she had no complaints.

Miguel Meneses, 52, lives with his elderly father just up the street in Silver Bluff. He too said he wasn’t bothered.

“You can’t hear it a little, but it’s not a problem,” he said.

Darlene Hernandez, 51, lives with her 12-year-old daughter Lola across the Rickenbacker at the Brickell Biscayne apartment. Despite being even closer to the festival than the Silver Bluff residents, she said she has only picked up occasional vibrations—perhaps, she said, because she’s on the Brickell side of the road. The wind may be carrying noises further South to the Silver Bluff neighborhood.

“It’s not a bother,” she said.

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Darlene Hernandez and Lola Hernandez, 12, on the final day of Ultra Music Festival on Virginia Key on Sunday, March 31., 2019. Alexia Fodere for The Miami Herald

Her greater concern, she said, was the diversion of emergency vehicles to the festival. Her daughter has asthma, she said, and she worries about what would happen if she or a neighbor had an emergency.

If there was any consensus among mainland residents, it’s that traffic has not been as bad as they feared. They were already mostly in bed when the logistical meltdown of late Friday and early Saturday occurred, they said.

But for many living or staying on Key Biscayne, fears about the impact of traffic have largely come true.

Ben Titcomb, 29, and his sister Rachel, 31, were dining Sunday around noon at the Donut Gallery on Key Biscayne. In town visiting their parents, they said that when they tried to drive back to the village from the mainland at around 11 p.m., it took them 45 minutes.

“It’s so inconvenient,” Ben said.

Rachel agreed, but admitted it was also good people watching. And the sound hasn’t bothered them, she said.

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(R to L) Ben Titcomb and sister Rachel Titcomb on the Final day of Ultra Music Festival, Virginia Key, Miami on Sunday 31st., 2019. Alexia Fodere for The Miami Herald

For Javier Casserly, a Key Biscayne resident who was enjoying lunch with his family at The Golden Hog market Sunday, the past two days, which coincided with his kids’ Spring Break, have been frustrating. His plans to take his family to South Beach and Lincoln Road have been foiled by the concert, he said. Even if traffic runs smoothly during the day, he said, getting back in the evening is a virtual nightmare.

“We’re trapped this weekend,” Casserly said.

Among those taking the biggest hit from traffic has been The Rusty Pelican Miami Restaurant, according to restaurant spokesman Pallava Goenka. He said traffic bottlenecks have caused a significant drop-off in business this weekend, usually one of their busiest.

“We’ve had a lot of unsatisfied guests who have ended up missing their dinner times,” he said.

The Pelican sits less than a mile southwest from the festival. Despite that, Goenka said, the noise itself hasn’t deterred anyone or led to complaints.

Still, he said, even regulars are staying away. And he’s asked his employees to allow for an hour’s extra time to arrive.

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Jason Murphy at The Rusty Pelican during the final day of Ultra Music Festival on Virginia Key on Sunday, March 31., 2019. Alexia Fodere for The Miami Herald

Some are reaping the rewards of those stuck on Key Biscayne. Nelson Zambrano, CEO of the Donut Gallery on Key Biscayne, was enjoying a steady flow of customers Sunday. He said he had no issues with the festival’s new location, even as a Key Biscayne lifer.

And for Fausto Ruotolo, store manager of the The Golden Hog market, located just around the corner from the Donut Gallery, business has been smooth the past two days.

“You can’t hear anything,” he said. “Even at night.”

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