Car enthusiasts attract crowds to Kirkcaldy Esplanade
Around 2000 people flocked to Kirkcaldy Esplanade on Saturday night as a meeting of car enthusiasts turned into a tribute to Hollywood star Paul Walker.
An estimated 800-1000 cars took part in the event - dubbed ‘2Fife 2 Furious - with cars parading up and down the seafront to pay respects to the star from the ‘Fast and Furious’ film series who died in a car crash in California on November 30.
The area soon became gridlocked with cars taking part in the commemorative “cruise” and crowds of people descending on the area to see the event.
It was organised via social media by James Stephen (24) who admitted he had no idea that it would attract to so many people.
He said: “I started a club called N/A Nonsense racing and we’ve held meets over the last year or so where there’s been 100-200 cars.
“It was coming up to the one year anniversary of the club so in conjunction with another group, Team VIP, we decided to mark it by holding a meet on the Esplanade.
“We called it ‘2Fife 2Furious’ as a joke but then unfortunately Paul Walker, who is an idol in our circles, was killed so we decided that we would turn it into a tribute to him.”
James, a courier driver from Kincardine, said that it was a statement issued by Fife Police prior to the event that was responsible for the huge boost in numbers.
“That’s when it started to escalate. The statement was picked up by newspapers so it was them that promoted it for us. We ended up with hundreds more people than was expected.
“It was also reported that we hadn’t spoken to the police beforehand but that wasn’t true. They came and had a coffee with me at my house on Friday night.”
The event passed without any major incident though there has been some criticism that an event of its size wasn’t organised officially, but James said that they have attempted to do previously but with no success.
“We’ve tried in the past to put something on at Rosyth dockyard but the Council and the police through there just weren’t interested, so that’s why we went ahead with it ourselves.
“But I have to say on the night the police could not have done more if I was paying them myself. They were absolutely brilliant.”
Despite the carnival atmosphere - makeshift stalls were quickly set up and young families were amongst the spectators - the event did draw some criticism. Local residents who knew nothing about the meeting complained about the noise and the were reports of youths urinating against walls.
“It’s unfortunate but at any event where there’s a large number of people that’s going to happen,” said James
“It’s the same at any football game or outside a nightclub. These things happen I’m afraid.”
There are now plans to make 2Fife 2Furious an annual event and James says that there are lessons to be learnt.
“We would have to get the police involved more and try to get the Esplanade closed off. Or if any of the big supermarkets want to speak to us about using a car park we’d be happy to discuss it.
“I’m aware that there was some disruption to the traffic and that a few of the local residents complained, but I was in regular contact with the police during the night who were perfectly happy and it finished at a reasonable time.
“We also raised a lot of money for charity. The night was also in part a tribute to Adam Maxwell so there was a collection for the Scottish Air Ambulance in his name, and there were other charities there with buckets.
“I think it was a really positive thing to have happened and the response we’ve had has been amazing.”
No trouble but mixed reaction from residents
Saturday’s event drew a mixed reactions from residents, with some describing it as “a bloody nuisance” and others saying it hadn’t bothered them.
Ian Ferguson (75), who has lived in School Wynd in the Linktown area of the town for 20 years with his wife Irene, said the event had caused a lot of disturbance.
“I would say it was okay for a one-off thing, but there is no way they are coming back here every year,” he said.
“It was a very noisy couple of hours we had to endure with the revving of engines and noisy car horns going on.
“It cannot be compared to the Links Market as that is an organised event which is a traditional part of the town’s history. Most of the people I spoke to hadn’t even heard of the guy who was killed, and there was no reason for it to be held in Kirkcaldy.”
Yvonne Yost a resident in Long Craig Walk, Seafield, said: “I heard the noise going on, but it didn’t bother me.
“I hadn’t heard of the guy who died, but I have been totally amazed at the reaction among the youngsters in Kirkcaldy. Everyone is so down on the youngsters and for them to have organised something like this which didn’t cause any trouble and brought all these people to the town, is quite an achievement.
“My neighbours were asking what was going on and I have lots of friends in the area and I haven’t heard a single person complain about it.”
Councillor Judy Hamilton who represents the Kirkcaldy central ward on Fife Council, added: “I heard a couple of complaints about noise, but that was it.
“I understand from the police it went without incident, but I think that was more down to luck than good management.
“We are always pleased to welcome events to Kirkcaldy, but we need to say to people that if they want to do this then they must organise it properly, through the proper channels so it can be properly marshalled and the correct procedures put in place.
“Also for the consideration of the residents, many who are elderly, there must be plenty of notice given because they are not on social media and most didn’t know anything about it.”
Councillor Kenny Selbie added: “From the information I have the event took place with no formal permission. While it passed off without major incident, it is really important that people thinking about organising events like this get in touch with council staff or local councillors, as well as the Police.
“We welcome any positive event or initiative for the town, but there are important health and safety issues to consider. These things are not spoilers, the checks and balances ensure everyone is safe.
“Giving local residents the courtesy of some notice would have been helpful, and this could have happened if the organisers came to us in advance.”
Inspector David Latto from Police Scotland Fife division, said: “We had a small number of complaints about anti-social driving behaviour, mainly noise, and also a few about other incidents of anti-social behaviour such as someone urinating in a close.
“Several people were warned for careless driving, but there were no arrests and the vast majority who attended were well behaved.
“There was a police presence throughout the event to monitor the behaviour of the large crowds.
“The whole thing was arranged through social media, and it just showed how quickly something like this can escalate, which was part of the challenge for us.
“The event was not authorised and if it were to be held again we have recommended to the organisers that the go through the proper event application process with Fife Council in order to ensure that the proper safety measures can be put in place to ensure everyone’s safety and wellbeing.”
With the vehicles and spectators filling up most of the Esplanade, the new Morrison’s car park was packed with drivers who turned out for the event.
The store was open until 10.00 p.m. and customers faced delays getting in and out of the car park as cars cruised along the prom and out the Kinghorn road to the Seafield roundabout and back again.
It was nose to tail the whole length of the prom and in surrounding streets, and any fears police had of races taking place had no chance of happening in the gridlock.
Martin Terris, Kirkcaldy store manager, said: “We were pleased to welcome so many extra customers from outside Kirkcaldy on Saturday evening, and the store team were able to work with the police to minimise the disruption to our existing customers.”