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Buffalo woman barred from Canalside fireworks because of big bag went home in tears

Jacky Roberts rode the bus to Canalside on the Fourth of July, hoping to catch some live music and the holiday fireworks show.

Knowing there'd be security, she packed what she thought was a "normal" purse with what she thought she'd need: her keys, wallet, phone, tissues, napkins, wipes, medication and bladder control pads.

But when she got to the security checkpoint, Roberts, 59, who lives in the Broadway-Fillmore section of Buffalo said she wasn't allowed in because of her purse, which measures about a foot in length. Only small, clutch-type purses measuring no more than 5 by 7 inches were allowed.

So she took the bus home, in tears, she said.

"I have no problem with the wanding and the searching of bags," Roberts said Wednesday after posting complaints about her experience. "But the guy said: 'No purses.' "

Prior to the fireworks show, Canalside posted on its Facebook page its rules on purses, along with restrictions on bringing in outside food and camera equipment.

She saw other people's complaints about the purse rules on Facebook as well.

People make their way through the security checkpoint into Canalside for the Fourth of July festivities, Tuesday, July 4, 2017. (Derek Gee/Buffalo News)

"To me, that's not reasonable," she said.

Roberts feels the size rule on purses discriminates against women, the elderly and people with medical conditions who may need to carry more than what can fit into a clutch.

"I'm on disability," Roberts said. "I may not have major medical issues. Still I have to go out with certain things. I had almost nothing with me."

Canalside officials did not respond to a request from The Buffalo News for comment on Roberts' complaint.

Canalside has enforced stricter rules this summer for its concerts and other events, including the clutch-sized purse rule.

Expect huge crowds – not long lines – at Canalside concerts

On its Facebook page, Canalside Buffalo responded to some of the complaints, including one from a woman who said the purse rule didn't seem to be enforced for everyone.

"Thank you for bringing this to our attention. We'll be sure to address this with our security providers," Canalside replied to the woman.

A person asked on Facebook about what to do about bringing diabetes medication to the event. "You're welcome to bring in any medical supplies that you may need, we ask that they not be in a backpack. Your bags would be inspected at the gate," Canalside Buffalo responded.

Other large venues around town also place restrictions on purses and bags. At New Era Field, Bills fans are told they can only bring a small clutch measuring 4.5 by 6.5 inches. They can only bring a clear 12-by-6-by-12 bag and gallon-sized zip top plastic bags. Artpark also restricts bags to 12 by 6 by 12. Concertgoers to shows at the Darien Lake Amphitheater are told their bags will be searched.

Canalside also was criticized Tuesday night by some upset that the public could not bring their own beverages or food into the fireworks event. It was the first time a Fourth of July event at Canalside forbid outside food and drinks. Trash bins lined the security entrance leaving attendees two options: Chug it or chuck it.

New rule adds to security, cost at Canalside's July Fourth celebration

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