The city’s fun street celebrated the Yuletide spirit this year like never in the recent past, with an “unexpected” turnout of revellers who just refused to call it a day.
The sidewalks of Park Street resembled sardine cans, the management at Flurys lost footfall count after 20,000, long queues were seen outside most restaurants all through the day and MusicWorld was forced to down shutters before 9pm to “avert a stampede-like situation”.
“The turnout was huge and unexpected,” said Nisar Ahmed, the officer-in-charge of Park Street police station.
MusicWorld recorded walk-ins of over 10,000 till 8.30pm, even with a controlled entry to ensure in-store comfort, up from the 4,600 last Christmas.
“We had to let in people in batches of 10 or 20 to keep it comfortable inside. By 8.45 pm, things swung out of control. As the crowds outside got impatient and tried to force their way in, we had to pull the shutters down to avoid a mishap,” said a MusicWorld spokesperson. The store had permission to stay open till midnight.
“The surge in Christmas footfall on Park Street has been evident since last year,” said Rajiv Kothari, whose Bar-B-Q and Flavours of China did at least three rotations each on Christmas night, serving over 1,400 diners.
The illumination along the corridor between Free School Street and Russell Street has served as a catalyst to attract people in droves to Park Street during the Christmas season. The enthusiasm peaked on Christmas Day, “almost resembling the pandal-hoppers during the Puja”, felt Nitin Kothari, the owner of Peter Cat and Mocambo, reporting a “30-35 per cent jump” in business compared with last year.
“The lights surely spread the Christmas spirit among the people,” said restaurateur Charles Mantosh. The owner of four Park Street eateries — Magnolia, Moulin Rouge, Waldorf and Floriana — praised the police for doing an “excellent job” but felt the parking rules could be relaxed a bit.
“Despite the fantastic footfall, we’re losing business as people have to park at a distance and walk down for dinner. We’ll meet the deputy commissioner (south) on Thursday with a plea for concessions in parking curbs,” he said.
With the police cordoning off the carriageway to ensure smooth flow of traffic, and the number of hawkers doubling during the festive season, people were seen stuck on the pavements, jostling for elbowroom.
“At one point, I feared for the life of my three-year-old son. We could hardly breathe,” recalled homemaker Saptaparni Roy, who had been to Park Street with her husband and child on Christmas.