Thinking of hitting up a music festival this summer? Music lover and newly-injured SCI BC Surrey-based Peer Mitch Garrett recently travelled to Indio, California to attend the world-famous Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival.
Getting injured in an ATV accident wasn’t about to stop Mitch Garrett from kicking the summer off right. But having a complete T4 SCI does mean that trips take a bit of planning and consideration, especially for someone who has been living with paraplegia for just nine months. With the support of two friends, and a hefty dose of courage, Mitch travelled from YVR to LAX to take advantage of everything Coachella had to offer. And here’s what he had to say about it:
Behind every great trip is some great research…
Before I went on the trip, I called the festival organizers. I wanted to know the run-down of the festival and get as many tips as I could. I was surprised that they got back to me very quickly, and I even talked them into letting me bring a second companion so I wouldn’t have to choose one friend over the other! Coachella did a great job; the ADA [Americans with Disabilities Act] was top notch!
Festival Fact: The Coachella website features the Coachella Accessibility Guide, with great details on parking, camping, shuttles, service dogs and more.
Getting There & Newbie Fails
Getting there was pretty straightforward. We flew WestJet, which was great, and everything seemed to go fairly smoothly. Until I needed to go to the bathroom, that is! Getting up to use the washroom on the plane takes a little more planning, and the staff took a little more time than expected. LOL. Oh well, next time I’ll give them more warning I guess!
The festival had an airport shuttle which took us to our hotel. Our hotel was great—we got an accessible room which was perfect for my needs. And there were accessible shuttles that took us from the hotel right to the festival grounds and directly to the entrance. And the accessible shuttle was quicker than waiting in the long lines for everyone else going to the festival. Bonus!
The Main Event
The ground is grass, but as the festival goers party on it it basically turns to dirt. Luckily I had 2.5 inch wide tires—these worked really well, but next time I would take my FreeWheel because it makes it easier to wheel around. I still needed to ask my buddies to push me around a bit since grass is tough to get through. There are also some accessible pathways throughout the festivals grounds.
The shows were awesome, although I only made it to three different stages [of six] throughout the weekend. All of these had excellent viewing platforms for people in chairs, above the crowd and less than 100 feet from the stage. Great views of the stages. Best show? For me, Eminem’s performance at Coachella was probably the greatest set I’ve ever seen. But everything I saw was great.
The washrooms were hit and miss. The stages had two viewing platforms on either side, but only one side of these had an accessible washroom. I tried to pick the side with the bathroom each time I went to a new stage. All the washrooms were accessible port-a-potties.
Food & Water
The accessible viewing platforms had ADA assistants there who were always giving out free water, so it was easy to stay hydrated while enjoying shows. The food was as good as would be expected; overpriced and under-portioned. Mostly the food was all food trucks, but I don’t recall any issues with accessibility.
Advice for Festival Goers
– Stick to the sides of the crowd when you can—it’s easy to roll over a lot of toes!
– Stay hydrated—crowds can make ambient temperatures even higher.
– Go out and enjoy yourself—do whatever you want to do!