The Carthage Press
  • Police Chief: Marian Days crowd growing

  • An FBI linguist, speaking to visitors to Carthage for Marian Days, told Carthage Police Chief Greg Dagnan that more people are coming and coming earlier because they feel the event is safe once again.
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  • An FBI linguist, speaking to visitors to Carthage for Marian Days, told Carthage Police Chief Greg Dagnan that more people are coming and coming earlier because they feel the event is safe once again.
    Dagnan told the Carthage City Council on Tuesday that the event, which was held last Thursday through Sunday, has grown larger than ever and the number of incidents requiring police attention continues to remain small.
    Dagnan said Police Capt. Bill Hawkins asked an FBI linguist, who attended the event to help police speak to those who attend who speak only Vietnamese, went out and asked some of the attendees why they were here so early.
    "When he came back to me and told me the story, I said I'm going to brag about this for the next six years," Dagnan said. "He said I talked to 10 people and at least half of them said we are here because we have heard it was safe to be here again, that the gangs are gone, there is no crime, our stuff is not going to get stolen, so we either never came or came once and stopped coming. Now word is getting around it's safe to be here, so word is getting around. That's about the only answer he could get."
    No one keeps track or counts the crowd at Marian Days, but past estimates have put the number of people attending at around 70,000.
    In his report, Dagnan said officers worked 164 calls for service at Marian Days from Wednesday to Sunday. The number of calls of service in the rest of the city for that same time was 253.
    Dagnan said the Carthage Police Department Explorers Post, along with Carthage Fire Department and street department, and officers from the Jasper County Sheriff's Office, Joplin, Webb City, Carterville, Oronogo, Carl Junction and Duenweg police departments, Mercy Carthage Ambulance, the Missouri State Highway Patrol, the FBI, Port Arthur, Tex., PD and Homeland Security all helped with security and safety on the grounds.
    Dagnan said 31 vehicles were towed for parking violations, 11 people were reunited with their families after being lost, there were 10 calls for medical help and officers wrote 75 parking tickets, which were included in the 164 calls for service.
    "I don't know what the number is, but I estimate we had probably 30 percent more people than we had last year, as evidenced by the fact that the trash company couldn't keep up and the fathers ran out of communion at the Masses," Dagnan said. "Price Cutter was generous enough to let us park at the old Village Chevrolet. That parking lot was full. The Nazarene Church was generous to us, and their parking lot was full. The fathers had bought land south of the Nazarene almost all the way to Glenstone, that was full of cars, and we still had cars parked in places where we've never had cars parked before."
    Page 2 of 2 - Dagnan said city workers and residents take Marian Days and the peaceful way it happens for granted, but when people from outside Carthage see the event for the first time, they are impressed.
    He thanked Wendi Douglas, director of the Carthage Convention and Visitors Bureau for organizing one tour for reporters and media representatives, then a second tour for city officials and state lawmakers and office-holders on Thursday.
    "One of the things I got out of that (the legislative) tour is when you see people who have never seen this before, it's amazing to them, it's astounding to them," Dagnan said. "In the long run, they say I can't believe this is in your community, it's fabulous.
    "I love Marian Days, I love the event. It's a great opportunity for us to meet folks that are in town for the right reason, but overall I think that Wendi's tour really opened my eyes to the fact that this is an asset to our community. It is a great event, I'm glad we have it here and even with the increased population of the event, I think we just need to find a way to deal with it. I think the event is going to continue to grow."
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