NECSI Researchers visit Fenway Park Beginning of Red Sox parade in Fenway Park
(photo by Sanith Wijesinghe, on October 30, 2004)

They also learned from a Boston Police officer about problems that happened at the Patriots day event. The crowd crush was causing children at the front to be stuck between the barrier and the crowd. Officers would take children over the barrier in order to prevent injury. With the much greater crowds expected at the Red Sox event, the danger was great that such crowd crushing would cause injury.

"What the police officer told us was consistent with our expectations that people move forward when a parade comes by, leading to a possibility of too high pressure at the front barrier," Prof. Bar-Yam continued. "Unless something is done, there is no place for the people to go."

With people spread out over the longer route, the problems did not occur. Accompanying the parade, Wijesinghe saw that the crowd was dense but the space could hold it. "It was clear that if there were twice as many people in that space, there would have been great danger of problems. People just wouldn't have been able to move and any small problem in the crowd could have led to a crisis," he said.

From his vantage point, Wijesinghe also had a great view of the parade itself. "It was fun to be part of the parade and see the Red Sox up close.", Wijesinghe said, "Still, it was also a great opportunity to see how crowds behave. We can use what we learned to improve our models and develop better tools for understanding crowd dynamics."

The models they develop may be useful for the next Patriots championship, or when the Red Sox win the World Series again next year.