Like many people over the recent long weekend, I watched the Netflix documentary on the Fyre festival, Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened. (Next up: Hulu’s Fyre Fraud). It made for highly recommended, riveting viewing, as the doc carefully outlines the multitude of falsehoods and misconceptions that went in to craft such a hugely fraudulent scheme. But the victims of scam artist Billy McFarland include not just the well-off “influencers” who were spending thousands of dollars to see Blink-182 on an island, but the Bahamian workers who labored for days to set up this festival that never ended up happening.
One of the most sympathetic figures in the documentary is Bahamian restaurant owner Maryann Rolle, who owns the Exuma Point Bar And Grille on Great Exuma (near where the festival was supposed to take place) with her husband Elvis. Rolle explains in Fyre that she had to spend her life savings—about $50,000—to pay her employees after “festival organizers stiffed her,” reports CNN. Fortunately, a fundraising campaign for Rolle has raised over $160,000 at this writing (original goal: $123,000), by 6,000 people in just eight days.
As Rolle herself explains on the GoFundMe page, her efforts for the Fyre festival involved serving 1,000 meals a day, and hosting the Fyre Fest organizers at her resort. She says, “As I make this plea it’s hard to believe and embarrassing to admit that I was not paid… I was left in a big hole! My life was changed forever, and my credit was ruined by Fyre Fest. My only resource today is to appeal for help. 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.”
One online respondent to Rolle’s plea was Fyre Festival co-founder Ja Rule, who offered an apology “to anyone who has been negatively effected [sic] by the festival,” which at this point, is practically anyone who was involved with Fyre in any way, shape, or form.