Organizers: Optimal July 4 event

Maycee Rogers, 3, front, “drives” her car while Trinity Gates, 2, back, does the same during a carnival ride at Salute to America on July 3. The carnival rides ranged from simple children’s rides like this, to those that caused shrieks from both children and adults as they were spun through the air.

Maycee Rogers, 3, front, “drives” her car while Trinity Gates, 2, back, does the same during a carnival ride at Salute to America on July 3. The carnival rides ranged from simple children’s rides like this, to those that caused shrieks from both children and adults as they were spun through the air. Emma Kessinger/News Tribune

Jefferson City’s Salute to America festival had nice weather, a large attendance and almost nothing in the way of problems, organizers and police reported.

“From our aspect, the guys downtown said it ran very, very smooth, despite one of our busier ones and a large population,” police Sgt. Gary Campbell said.

He said exiting traffic northbound cleared got motorists out quickly after the event, resulting in very few complaints.

Event director Jill Snodgrass said the entire Capitol grounds were packed for the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s performance Thursday night. She estimated 12,000 to 15,000 people watched the show. Friday night’s “Red, White and Boom” sky concert was also a hit, she said.

“There has been nothing but outstanding comments and people going out of their way to thank (sponsor) Missouri Credit Union and thank the organizers for the spectacular fireworks show. It just gets better every year,” she said.

The only incident Campbell was aware of over the three-day Fourth of July festival was a boy being injured after falling from the large slide at the carnival on Friday. Jefferson City resident Larry Seneker, who knows first aid and responded to offer help to the child and his parents, later contacted police and the News Tribune.

Seneker said the boy, who appeared to be 5 or 6, fell about 20 feet, midway on the slide. He said he had some bumps and bruises, but was answering questions from him and his parents and appeared to be not seriously injured. He said the police and medical staff did a great job in responding, but he said he was concerned that the carnival workers reopened the slide in less than an hour — too quickly, he believes, to perform a full safety evaluation.

Organizers were not aware of any other medical issues, arrests or other problems.

“It was a great event,” Snodgrass said. “My understanding this was the first Salute to America Fourth of July celebration that didn’t have any real medical emergencies besides that (slide incident), and no arrests. Amazing,” Snodgrass said.

As attendance grows, so does the event’s footprint. It now covers 17 city blocks and features seven entertainment stages.

Snodgrass said on Sunday that she and other festival organizers have already met twice to start the process of determining what went well and what could be changed for next year.

She said Jefferson City being the state capital creates high expectations for the event.

“There are a lot of people in this community who believe we should be putting on the biggest and best celebration in our state, and that’s what we strive to do every year,” Snodgrass said.

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