The 38th annual Marian Days kicks off this Friday.
The largest religious pilgrimage in North America marks a special year in 2015: the 40th anniversary since the fall of Saigon.
Hosting the event triples the population of Carthage, MO. Special precautions are taken by Carthage police, way ahead of time.
“This year we started everything 24 hours earlier than we did last year, and we were already behind,” Carthage Police Chief Greg Dagnan said.
Because Vietnamese gangs were a limited problem in the past, the FBI sends a special Vietnamese linguist to the event to assist in any altercations that may arise. But beyond that, most problems at the event are illegal parking and disturbing of the peace.
Carthage holds a special court the Monday after the event so that citations can be addressed before festival-goers return home. Last year, 13 citations were served. Only one was a felony.
Part of the increased security that keeps the event in control is the enlisting of outside help. Carthage’s mayor can deputize officers from other agencies this one time a year.
“We’re one of the few cities that has an ordinance that basically says the mayor can sign a paper and you’re a police officer. The reason we have that is Marian Days. I don’t want a Joplin officer coming over here and having no jurisdiction, I want him to have the same powers I have,” Dagnan said.
With children running in and out of tents and a steady flow of human traffic during the day, attendees feel safe with the frequent passing of patrol cars.
“People keep telling, you say, ‘Why are you here?’ and they’ll say ‘Well, I haven’t come for 5 or 6 years but I hear its safe again’,” Dagnan said.
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