SANTA CLARA – Paramount’s Great America theme park was evacuated and closed an hour early Saturday night after several fistfights broke out, leaving several parkgoers injured, officials said.
Gerry Soud, a spokesman for Paramount Theme Parks, said the altercations occurred as crowds swelled during a step dance competition sponsored by KMEL 106.1, a Bay Area radio station that plays hip-hop music and rhythm and blues.
Soud said park officials decided to shut the gates early and clear out the crowds as a safety precaution. As they streamed into the parking lot, however, hundreds of parkgoers began jumping on cars, prompting the arrival of Santa Clara police dressed in riot gear.
The owner of a service station near the park said several teens looted his store, spilling candy in the aisles and smashing bottles of champagne outside.
Soud was unsure how many people visited the park on the warm, sunny day. Great America has not previously been evacuated to his knowledge, he said.
Calls to the Santa Clara Police Department were not immediately returned Saturday night.