The Snowglobe Music Festival kicks off its three day event today in South Lake Tahoe. Organizers expect some 30,000 concert-goers over three days. The event also marks the one year anniversary of the tragic death of festival-goer, Alyssa Byrne, from Petaluma. According to investigators at the time, Byrne had a falling out with a friend and elected to walk back three miles to her hotel because of long lines for shuttle buses.
Her body was found in a snow bank about a mile away from the festival after a three day search.
After the death of 19-year-old Byrne, her father, Kevin Byrne started The Always Buddy Program in her honor.
The goal is to teach children at an early age to always have a buddy system when in an unfamiliar place. This week, a local Tahoe business continues its mission.
“I promise to never let myself, or someone I love, alone, in an unfamiliar place, without a buddy system." That's the simple pledge of The Always Buddy Program. Alyssa’s story made an impact on local business owner, Paul Hale.
"We never met Alyssa before, but just the idea of this vibrant young woman coming here to do nothing but have fun, and she never made it home…” says Hale.
Hale has been supporting the Byrne family and the Always Buddy Program for the past year, and decided to honor Alyssa by setting up a heating hut outside the festival entrance to hand out water, hot beverages, and reminders to stick together in hopes to prevent another tragedy.
"When you come from a place, away from your home and you're with friends, make sure to leave with your friends. No matter what,” says Hale. “You get in a fight, or an argument, that stuff happens. The big picture is: you're in a dangerous environment that you're not familiar with."
Organizers of the event say they've taken steps to improve transportation by adding more buses and making routes shorter.
Repeat festival goers like Cammie Munson say Alyssa's story was an eye-opener for them.
"It just made me aware to be a little bit more smart when going to these type of festivals." Says Munson.
Hale hopes people will remember Alyssa, and remember to be safe.
"This is only a tragedy if Alyssa's story is forgotten,” says Hale. ”As long as we can get this word out and just let people know- it's okay to have fun. Just make sure you get home safe. "
The Always Buddy heating station will be set up through midnight each night of the festival and the goal is to also catch people who may be lost and need help getting home.
Snowglobe festival organizers have also included 10,000 square feet of enclosed heated space within the festival grounds.