The Fathers at the Congregation of the Mother Co-Redemptrix say they're not sure what to expect, but the crowds could be bigger than ever for Marian Days 2017 because of two anniversaries.

The Fathers at the Congregation of the Mother Co-Redemptrix say they're not sure what to expect, but the crowds could be bigger than ever for Marian Days 2017 because of two anniversaries.
Father Bernie Dang, Marian Days Coordinator for the Catholic Order, said this year is the 40th Marian Days in Carthage, but the program will focus on a more important anniversary that happened thousands of miles away.

Fatima centennial
“This year we focus on the much more important event, we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Fatima event in Portugal,” Dang said. “It happened in 1917.”
According to the website Every 13th day of the month, from May 13 to Oct. 13, 1917, the Virgin Mary, Mother of Jesus, appeared before three children near the town of Fatima in Portugal with a message of peace at a time when Europe was mired in the Great War.
“On the last day she gave them the message and wanted them to spread it out to the world, pray for peace,” Dang said. “The three messages were first, repent, secondly, pray the Rosary and thirdly devote to her immaculate heart. Pray for peace in a word.
“This year, our special focus is on Fatima. A lot of people who can't make it to Portugal because of the distance or the financial issue, they decide to come here and we expect a big crowd here. You can tell by the tents, we have more than 250 large tents set up.”
Each large tent on the grounds houses a church or large group coming to the event, Dang said, but it's virtually impossible to know how many people are actually attending.
“We don't know how many come,” Dang said. “We lost count a long time ago, but about five or 10 years ago the police department estimated 70,000 people. The number keeps growing and we just don't know the number.”
Dang said the program will remain the same as past, with opening ceremonies on Thursday, Aug. 3, services throughout the weekend and the big processional parade on Saturday, Aug. 5.

Carthage Police Chief Greg Dagnan said his department is changing some of its plans to try to stay ahead of the crowds that will pack the grounds and one square mile or so that surrounds the campus.
One big change is that all the roads around the CMC grounds will be closed to normal traffic at 7 a.m. Saturday, July 29, about two days earlier than last year's closing which happened on the Monday before Marian Days.
“Three years ago we were 24 hours behind the whole event, everything we planned happened 24 hours ahead of our planning, so we moved it back 24 hours earlier,” Dagnan said. “The next year, they were 24 hours ahead of us still. So then last year we really moved the time table up, starting on Monday before Marian Days started on Thursday, as far as road blocks going live, and that still wasn't soon enough. So what we're going to do this year, we have a plan in which we can start July 29 at 7 a.m., we can go live, which for us means the streets are closed, we have officers at all the vital positions, we're checking everybody, helping them park. That's what it means to go live for us.”
Another improvement is that the city has spent $2,000 to install removable bollards to block some of the roads around the event.
The bollards will replace dump trucks which were parked at certain key intersections.
The Carthage Street Department spent last week drilling holes in the roads and installing the sleaves that will hold the heavy steel posts and the caps which will cover the holes when the posts are not in place.
“The dump trucks were a good idea last year, but they looked really bad,” Dagnan said. “We decided let's do the same thing except to try to make it look nicer. I don't want to say it's not a reaction to keep people safe in a potential threat, but the new incidents had nothing to do with it, we put dump trucks out there last year and we were going to do it again this year. These just look nicer.”

In past years, police have used the former Village Chevrolet lot at Fairlawn and Grand Avenue for parking and other uses, but that lot may not be available.
This year, the city will use the former Myers Park Airport as overflow parking once the lot at the Fairview Christian Church is full.
Dagnan said parking is becoming a bigger and bigger problem as the event grows in popularity.
“We're somewhat a victim of our own success, people feel very safe coming here, it's a very positive atmosphere from our community, our community supports it, supports them being here,” Dagnan said. “I think, not only the police, but the fire, EMS, everybody just really puts their best foot forward, so people who come every five years, now they're coming every three years or every other year. It just get bigger and bigger.”