U.S. Bank alarm malfunctions amid Busker Festival

Call him Buzzo, the amazingly annoying, constantly loud performer at this weekend’s Busker Festival in downtown Lawrence.

From about 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Saturday, an errant fire alarm at the U.S. Bank Tower at Ninth and Massachusetts streets sent a shrill alarm over the center of downtown as hundreds of visitors came to see street performers as part of the fifth annual Busker Festival.

“It was a terrible time for it to happen,” said Joan Golden, a senior vice president at U.S. Bank. “But it wasn’t a case of us just ignoring it. I can tell you that for sure.”

Golden said an electrical short occurred in the building’s fire sprinkler system. Maintenance workers for the bank tried to shut off the alarm, but Golden said the system would not allow the alarm to be shut off until the location of the electrical short was identified.

A U.S. Bank spokeswoman said the company did bring in a third-party vendor as well, who struggled with how to quickly shut off the alarm.

“We are strengthening our procedures,” said Amy Frantti, a spokeswoman with U.S. Bancorp out of Minneapolis. “We apologize for any inconvenience.”

Saturday’s festival, however, did go on. One of the main stages for the Busker Festival was located right outside the doors to the bank.

Richard Renner, producer for the festival, said the alarm created a bit of an impromptu show: One performer put another performer on his shoulders and threw a heavy blanket over the outdoor speaker that was blaring the alarm.

“The guys made the best of it,” Renner said. “We were still able to put on a good show.”

Renner said the alarm was only a minor inconvenience for the festival, which he said continued to attract strong crowds.

The festival had 20 official acts that performed on stage during the three-day event, but Renner said there were about that many more unofficial acts that staked out a corner on their own.

“In the performer world, the festival is getting a very good reputation,” Renner said. “Some of the performers said they’re getting the best tips of their career here. We’re doing something right.”

The festival will return again next year, near the end of August, Renner said.