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OZY Fest plans fall return after being canceled due to heat emergency

OZY Fest was canceled because of the heat.

OZY Fest was canceled because of the heat.  Photo Credit: Getty Images for Ozy Media/Matthew Eisman

OZY Fest is issuing full refunds to ticket holders and plans to return this fall following its forced, last-minute cancellation.

Mayor Bill de Blasio pulled the plug on the Central Park festival that combines music, politics, food and thought on Friday afternoon, in advance of the weekend's heat emergency. It was set for Saturday and Sunday at the Great Lawn, and was slated to bring together dozens of actors, artists, chefs and politicians, including John Legend, Rachael Ray, Megan Rapinoe and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand. 

"In the case of OZY Fest, we do have in our contract for either rain events or extreme heat events. We do have the right of exercising cancellation if the heat index exceeds 105 [degrees]," NYC Park Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver said Friday. "We determined for both days, as we got updated information, that was going to be the case.

"So, for the safety of the public, for the performers and for our responders who would be on the scene, we felt the best thing to do was to cancel the event."

OZY Fest organizers tweeted that they were "so disappointed and sorry that this has happened."

OZY on Saturday a statement appeared on its website explaining to fans that refunds would be issued automatically for ticket holders. Most refunds — even ones purchased through outside vendors like TodayTix, Goldstar and Groupon — would be processed automatically without fans taking further action. Refunds would be received in the form of payment used at time of purchase. 

Festival co-founders Carlos Watson and Samir Rao announced plans to reschedule the festival for an upcoming date this fall. "We will be back — bigger and bolder than ever," a statement reads. 

"We're already working with the city on a new date," Watson said in a video posted to the OZY Fest Twitter account. "In the meantime, stay safe." 

De Blasio on Thursday declared a heat emergency as the forecast called for weekend temperatures that would feel in excess of 100 degrees. An excessive heat warning was issued in the area. Temperatures in the high 90s were expected to feel like 115 degrees Saturday and Sunday due to the high heat index, the National Weather Service said. 

While briefing the media during a news conference on the extreme heat, de Blasio said city officials "came to the decision that it was not appropriate for [OZY] to go on." 

“I was in the room when we were discussing it. I don’t know what OZY Fest feels personally. I do not know their view," he said. "The facts are the facts. Consistent reports from the National Weather Service putting us at 110 and greater on the heat index, 105 is the trigger, we’re saying we’re done here. This thing needs to be canceled." 

Earlier in the week, OZY Fest urged fans to stay "safe and comfortable" during the event. A message on the OZY Fest website reassured fans that the festival would provide unlimited water, as well as set up misting fans, shaded areas, sunscreen dispensers and ice stations. 

With Lauren Cook

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