Teenage Bedlam Reigns at Beatles’ Appearance
By Clarence Doucet
September 17, 1964
Some 700 teenagers broke out in disorder at City Park Stadium Wednesday night midway through a spirited stage appearance by England’s madcap Beatles.
It took 225 New Orleans policemen and special patrol guards more than 20 minutes to restore order while an estimated 12,000 persons watched the wild scene from the stands.
Policemen had ot physically tackle some of the youths—mostly girls--- who broke away from the stand attempting to crash through barricades separating them from the longhaired singers.
The crowd was finally brought under control after police “roped off” most of the spectators on the sidelines of the football field.
Police Supt. Joseph I. Giarrusso who estimated the number of youths who broke through the barricades, callt he episode one “that was both amusing and tragic at the same time.” He said he could not recall a similar incident in the city involving teenagers.
Police Sgt. Ray Aldich said he and Ptn. Roger Leon Cabella administered spirits of ammonia to more than 200 youngsters who collapsed from the excitement.
He also reported that one teenage girl suffered a broken arm, but refused to be taken to the hospital. He said that after the girl’s arm was bandaged, she returned to the stands.
The Beatles had been on the stage only 15 minutes when the spectators began rushing to the field. During the final half of their performance they had to share the spotlight with what Beatle Paul McCartney called “the football game.”
Mounted policemen patrolled the area around the stage.
When the Beatles mounted the stage about 9:25pm, the audience began screaming and the wild cheering continued, reaching its climax when groups began jumping from the stands to the field.
The Beatles, meanwhile, appeared unconcerned about the disorder and continued with such songs as “She Loves You,” “Shake it up Baby,” and “Can’t buy me love.” They capped their act with “A Hard Day’s Night.”
The wild scene at the stadium climaxed the Beatles’ visit to New Orleans which started 19 hours earlier –at 3am.
The hairy Britons left the city Wednesday night after their performance, flying to Kansas City where they will perform Thursday night.
Unfortunately they were not as delighted with New Orleans, as New Orleans teenagers were with them.
At a press conference earlier they termed the New Orleans visited the “roughest” of their current tour of the U.S. It was a press session in which they proved they were as quick with the quip as they are appealing to audiences.
America’s favorite Beatle, Ringo Starr, was the star of the session. Starr was asked what the Beatles enjoyed most about their wealth. His quick reply was “money.”
Paul McCartney also came up with a one-liner that got a big laugh. Asked what he thought about topless bathing suits, he said, “We’ve been wearing them for years.”
The Beatles said New Orleans was the “roughest” stop in their current tour because of a series of mix-ups in their schedule. Asked if they intended to visit New Orleans again, one of them replied, “Yes, when we’re older.”
At the beginning of the press conference, held at the Congress Inn on chef Menteur hwy., Mayor Victor H. Schiro presented each of the Beatles with a key to the city and a certificate of honorary citizenship.
When he handed a key to Beatle John Lennon, Lennon replied “I want to put my arm around you. You look like a nice fellow, Lord Mayor.”
Schiro then asked each of the Beatles for his autograph. When Lennon returned the pen, he said, “Your pen, your lordship.”
About 13 hours earlier at the Congress Inn, at 3 a.m., the scene was somewhat different.
The Beatles, England’s repayment in four for Elvis Presley, had arrived at the motel minutes before in a smashing climax to a series of unscheduled events.
Lennon, the one who writes, was wearing a pair of dark glasses, apparently seeking to avoid recognition. McCartney, the most outwardly friendly member of the Liverpool bunch, was smiling and talking to someone.
The group stood in a small hallway leading to a laundry room of the motel. To their right was a deep sink for cleaning mops.
Their arrival was planned to be quite simple. They would arrive at New Orleans Lakefront Airport and be taken by helicopter to the Congress Inn.
Any similarity between that simple plan and what actually happened had to be purely coincidental.
Councilman Daniel L. Kelly, representing the mayor, and Orleans Levee Board president Milton Duputy, representing Gov. John J. McKeithen, were officially to welcome the quartet at the lakefront airport, but they never got a chance.
In the first place, the helicopter at the lakefront airport blew a tire. So limousines were ordered but by mistake were sent to New Orleans International Airport (Moisant Field).
But it did not make too much difference because the Beatles’ plane, a chartered Lockheed Electra, was directed to land at Moisant. Meanwhile, a large crowd of teenagers had formed at the lakefront airport by the time it was announced the Beatles would not arrive there.
Dupuy then gave up and secured his detail of 30 levee board policemen who had been pressed into duty at the airport. Kelly, meanwhile, rushed by automobile from the lakefront airport to Moisant, arriving there just as the Beatles were boarding limousines, and in time to make the trip back across the city to Congress Inn.
The arrival time and place was to be secret, but the police escort that accompanied the motorcade from Moisant to the motel was accented by screaming sirens and flashing blue lights.
Some 100 people, mostly teenagers, were awaiting the Beatles’ arrival at the motel; and they lined up along what was to be the singers’ route.
But there was another mix-up. Every car in the motorcade – except the Beatles’ limousine followed this route. Their vehicle was on another roadway. The teenagers began screaming hysterically when they spotted their idols and within seconds surrounded the Beatles’ automobile. Police forced the youths away, and as the car was backing up it hit a Kenner police patrol car. Damage was slight.
The time the Beatles ran into the lobby of the motel. They were led down a hallway to the laundry room and then outside and to their three room suite, room 100.
Councilman Kelly stood outside their door waiting to present them Mayor Victor H. Schiro’s proclamation making Wednesday “Beatles Day.” He never was invited to make the presentation.
One teenager, Karen DeHority, 16, burst into tears when she saw the Beatles. Two young married women, past their teens, said they would not stand so long to see the President as they did the Beatles.
One young girl kept screaming, “If I can just touch one of Ringo’s rings!”
Another carried a sign that read, “Ringo for President.”
Three teenage girls traveled from Memphis, Tennessee, with the mother of one fo the girls, just to attend the show Wednesday night at City Park Stadium. Congress Inn manager Paul Bomberger was so much impressed with their loyalty he invited them to be guests of the motel for the night.
By 4a.m., most of the crowd had disappeared Councilman Kelly was leaving and police were still guarding the Beatles’ suite (windows in it were boarded up).
And two Beatles were sleeping; the other two were hungry.