Maryann Rolle Is The True Hero Of The Fyre Festival
Fyre Fest may have been a complete disaster, but Maryann Rolle has emerged as its hero.
This month, not one but two documentaries were released that chronicled the momentous disaster and utter clusterf*ck that was the Fyre Festival. If you don't remember the festival and its epic failure, or haven't seen either of the documentaries (which you definitely should), let me jog your memory. Fyre Festival was the brainchild of Billy McFarland that promised to be a "cultural moment created from a blend of music, art, and food," which ended up being absolutely none of that. McFarland and his team used the pretty genius idea of recruiting top models and Instagram influencers to simultaneously produce somewhat-vague posts about the festival, instantly creating hype around the illusion that for a pretty penny, attendees could party with models on Pablo Escobar's private Bahamian island (spoiler alert: the festival didn't even take place on Escobar's island).
Instead of this luxurious, millennial utopia, Fyre Festival was a total catastrophe in pretty much every way possible — it was a complete scam. And what's kind of humorous about it all, is the true nature of the festival was revealed via a viral photo of a cheese sandwich. Go figure.
While watching the documentaries, the predominant feeling is complete shock, horror, and sick amusement at how absolutely bonkers the whole situation was. It's almost impossible to comprehend something like this could actually happen. (No, really, how did this happen?). But when you get introduced to Maryann Rolle, your emotions take a serious shift.
Rolle and her husband, Elvis, the owners of the Exuma Point Resort and Exuma Point Bar and Grille, were employed by McFarland and co. to be the caterers of the festival. She provided 1,000 meals a day for festival goers and staff, having her personal staff work literally around the clock to meet the demands. And guess what? She never got paid.
In a May 2017 article by Bahamian publication, Tribune242, it's reported that, "Mrs. Rolle claims to be owed $136,000, and acknowledged that she and her husband, Elvis, agreed to work on the festival in the face of warnings from suspicious business owners that were wary of how the event was being managed."
Furthermore, in the Netflix documentary, Rolle tearfully reveals she used pretty much the entirety of her personal savings to pay the locals for their labor and service. See, unlike McFarland, Rolles made good on her promises. She says, "I went through about $50,000 in my savings that I could of have had for rainy day and they just wiped it out and never looked back. Personally I don’t even like to talk about the Fyre Festival. Just take it away and let me start a new beginning because they really, really, really hurt me." And this where we, the viewers, realize the true magnitude of the festival's failure.
When attendees of the festival arrived they were redirected to Rolle's restaurant, basically in McFarland's attempt to kill time, where she provided food and alcohol for the hoards of people anxiously waiting to get settled into their beachside villas FEMA disaster tents. Rolle explains, "I’m at the airport on Thursday morning when I got the call. They said the grounds aren’t ready, we would like to bring the guests to your place for a few hours until the site is ready." Though the restaurant was not prepared to host the over 500 guests, Rolle still did what she needed to make sure she didn't let McFarland, or the festival goers, down. "I was able to get the breakfast out to them. I had lots of fresh fruit, breakfast bagels, everything you’d want or expect for a continental breakfast."
Luckily, Rolle is finally getting the recognition, and compensation, she wholeheartedly deserves. The business owner started a GoFundMe page, humbly asking for help. The page's description reads, "There is an old saying that goes 'bad publicity is better than no publicity' and I pray that whoever reads this plea is able to assist." As of today, Rolle has exceeded her goal by well over $60,000, with the total donations at $189,448 of the $123,000 goal.
While McFarland is currently serving six years in federal prison, Maryann and Elvis Rolle are proving even amid the deception, injustice, and fraud, a silver lining somehow still exists.
If you would like to donate to Maryann and her husband, you can do so here.