Some Saskatoon parents are feeling disenchanted with a children's event held over the weekend in Saskatoon that was so crowded it was almost shut down by a fire inspector.
The Enchanted Ball drew at least 800 children and parents to the Saskatoon Inn on Sunday who paid either $15 in advance or $20 at the door.
It was billed as a chance for children to dress up, dance in a chandelier-lit ballroom, eat cupcakes, drink sparkling apple juice and have their photos taken with "royalty" — adults dressed up as some of the favourite princess characters.
Jen Stricker and her husband from Waldheim took their two little girls to the event, arriving at around 1:30 p.m.
"We kind of stood in a ballroom not able to move," Stricker said. Although it was crowded, Stricker still encouraged her children to dance. But she quickly lost sight of them.
"I stood back for a minute to let them dance and I couldn't see my kids anymore."
Stricker said the treats disappeared before they could have any and after about 45 minutes at the event, Stricker and her husband decided they couldn't take more of the overcrowding.
"The event was quite obviously oversold."
Fire inspector almost shut down event
A spokesperson for the fire department confirms a fire inspector was sent to the hotel after receiving a complaint about overcrowding.
Assistant Fire Chief Dave Bykowy, said when the inspector arrived he estimated there were 800 people at the event, far more than the capacity limit for the space. Most people were crowded in one ballroom where the princesses were, which had a capacity of around 150.
"He proceeded to speak to the event organizer and basically informed her that he was going to shut down the event due to overcrowding," Bykowy said.
But they worked out an agreement to open up another ballroom at the hotel and the inspector allowed the event to continue.
Organizer didn't expect so large a crowd
Jennifer King organized the event through her company King's Castle Design and Events. She said the huge crowd was a surprise.
"We definitely did not expect to get the kind of turnout that we got," she said.
She said 300 tickets were sold in advance — each including one entry for a child and a parent — so King said she was expecting 600 people to come. She said she thought the rooms she rented could hold that many people in total, and the space reached capacity quickly. King said a side door that was left open let people into the venue faster than they realized.
"I think half of the city showed up," she said.
Family and friends inside the ballroom told King it was "elbow to elbow", which is why, along with the fire inspector's visit, it became apparent that another ballroom had to be opened up.
King said at least ten people contacted her to express concerns about the crowds, "but with the amount of positive feedback we had we would definitely host another one."
However, next time King said she will do a few things differently such as only selling tickets in advance.
King had her own children at the event, and didn't feel it became dangerously overcrowded. She said just under a thousand people attended the event.