THE hirsute, the hip, the hangers-on and the ardent devotees of acid rock made the trip to Atlantic City by the thousands on Friday for a deafening three days of the Atlantic City Pop Festival and a tribal gathering of the Now Generation.
To the gratification of nervous authorities the bizarrely dressed first-day crowd of about 10,000 that grew to 25,000 by night fall lived up to the peace symbols that many sported.
The songfest is being held at a spot where many a gambler has learned the meaning of the blues - the Atlantic City Race Track. For the next three days the top groups in the country will yell themselves hoarse for a crowd that is expected to reach 75,000. A "People's" campsite in the woodlands outside town swelled by the hour Friday as new arrivals, mostly in jeans and sweatshirts, found a place to rest their rock numbed heads and set up tents.
Avery Dash, 23, a student teacher, reported on his first night alfresco "Everybody shared peaches, a little wine and enthusiasm. We enjoyed meeting the people here as much as the music."
Camping out is apparently an economic measure as much as communal bliss. "We're having a great time and we'll stay as long as the money lasts," said Jim Greenfield, a Villanova freshman from Merion.
FIRST indications seemed to support the promoter's assertion that this festival will be held without the violence that marred recent gatherings in Newport, R.I., and Denver, where there was gate-crashing and rock throwing.
'A lot of trouble started because there weren't enough ticket-takers or gates," said Shelly Kaplan, the co-promoter and owner of the Electric Factory, Philadelphia's psychedelic nightspot.
Evidence of the organizer's caution was everywhere. The bar at the track where horseplayers drown their sorrows is locked up.
A huge sign warns that no liquor is allowed.
There were 100 security guards scattered around the track and state and local police made routine patrols. They had made contingency plans, but they weren't needed Friday.
The kids had clearly come to hear rock, not hurl rocks.
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