With a transplanted headquarters and a number of new all-terrain vehicles to help officers get around the sprawling campsite, the annual Marian Days celebration started today in Carthage at the Congregation of the Mother Co-Redemptrix complex.
With a transplanted headquarters and a number of new all-terrain vehicles to help officers get around the sprawling campsite, the annual Marian Days celebration started today in Carthage at the Congregation of the Mother Co-Redemptrix complex. Carthage Police Chief Greg Dagnan said the headquarters for police, fire and ambulance workers was moved from the north side of the CMC complex to the parking lot of the Salvation Army at Fairview and Grand avenues for the first time this year. “When I first started at Marian Days, the camp ended at Fairview Avenue,” Dagnan said. “Most of the activities and campers were around the main building. Since they opened this south camping area, everything has moved south. We actually had to set up cameras at one point to monitor Fairview Avenue and keep track of what was happening over there. This is an effort to get closer to the campers. We’ll try it out this year and see how it works.” Dagnan said the Salvation Army was gracious in allowing the city to take over their main parking lot for the week. Dagnan also said road closures around the Marian Days campgrounds started on Wednesday and Thursday. Grand Avenue from Fairview to Highland and Fairview Avenue and Highland Street along the south and north sides of the complex have been closed to traffic until Monday. “We appreciate that people might want to come and park on Main Street or some of the surrounding streets and see what’s happening at Marian Days and tour the event,” Dagnan said. “But if you don’t have any business around here, you might want to stay out of the area.” While a precise count hasn’t been kept at the event for years, conservative estimates say that 50,000 to 60,000 people attend Marian Days every year. According to the schedule from the Fathers at the Congregation of the Mother Co-Redemptrix, the 35th annual Marian Days starts today with confession in the basement of the Immaculate Heart Shrine at 9 a.m. and an opening ceremony and Mass from 7 p.m.-10 p.m. Thursday evening. Events continue all day Friday and Saturday, with closing mass at 7 a.m. Sunday. The tent city that grows around the event began its annual growth last weekend. Campers set up tents in front yards along Highland Street and stretching to the north. Other campers set up on the grounds around the CMC headquarters. In recent years, festival camping has spread to the Stations of the Bible Park on the south side of Fairview Avenue, prompting officials to move the emergency headquarters closer to Fairview Avenue. In addition to a new headquarters, Dagnan said the department has a number of new vehicles to help officers and emergency workers get around the crowded complex. Carthage police, using a grant from the Jasper County Law Enforcement Sales Tax fund and a donation from Beimdiek Insurance, purchased two new four-seat all-terrain vehicles, known as Gators, for use at Marian Days and for the equally crowded Maple Leaf Parade in October. The Mercy McCune-Brooks Ambulance service and the Missouri State Highway Patrol provide additional all-terrain vehicles, including one specifically outfitted to carry patients out of tight spaces. Officers also use the CPD’s two Segways, normally used for parking enforcement on the Square, to patrol the grounds rapidly. Officers from cities across the area come to Carthage to work at Marian Days with their salaries being paid by the city with money from the CMC. Carthage Police maintain normal patrols throughout Carthage while a separate force, made up of officers from Carthage and the surrounding cities, patrols the Marian Days grounds.