Archive for Wednesday, July 3, 2002

t take back seat to terror anxiety

July 3, 2002


Terror warnings aren't hindering plans for the nation's first Fourth of July since the Sept. 11 attacks.

Despite any threat still hanging overhead, more than nine in 10 Americans surveyed said they intended to stick with Independence Day plans. Around Lawrence, that means fireworks fans will have their pick of snapping, crackling, booming pyrotechnic parades.

"I'm not worried about the warnings," said Gary Saathoff, a Lawrence Jaycee and member of the pit crew that will launch the city's fireworks display from the Kansas River levee. "When that happens, the terrorists win. That's not the way I'm going to celebrate."

But law enforcement officials will be on heightened alert.

"Anytime the federal government issues specific warnings, we need to take notice of that," Lawrence Police Sgt. Mike Pattrick said. "We will have a police presence out to make sure that everyone is safe during the July 4 holiday. I think it would be fine for everyone to get out and enjoy the festivities of the city."

The FBI has warned police nationwide about the possibility of a holiday-timed terrorist strike, though it says no specific threat exists. The bureau also will monitor holiday festivities nationwide.

President Bush said Tuesday that the government is doing what it can to thwart future attacks and urged Americans to "celebrate heartily because we have freedom and we love freedom."

The State Department, meanwhile, is telling Americans abroad to avoid large gatherings with other Americans out of fear that such events could become terrorist targets.

"Exercise caution, exercise vigilance, be careful, and have a good time," said Richard Boucher, the State Department spokesman.

In Lawrence and many area towns, the good time will center on colorful public displays set to erupt Thursday and into the weekend.

The annual Lawrence Jaycees' public fireworks display will begin between 9:30 p.m. and 9:45 p.m. Thursday at Burcham Park, Second and Indiana streets. The display should last from 30 to 45 minutes. The park will open at 6 p.m., and live music from the Alferd Packard Memorial String Band will begin at 7:30 p.m. Entry to the park is free.

Personal fireworks are not allowed in the park.

Here's a look at other fireworks displays in the area:

 The Eudora show will begin after dark in the Eudora High School parking lot. Festivities, including a community band concert, obstacle course, DJ and activities for children, will start about 6:30 p.m.

 In Baldwin, fireworks will begin after dark at the Baldwin High School ball fields. Games, food and entertainment begin at 5 p.m.

 In McLouth, fireworks will begin after dark at Prairie Park.

 The DeSoto show will be at the Lexington Trails Middle School football field. Because of construction at the middle school, spectators are asked to park across the street at the high school.

 Ottawa fireworks will be after dark at Forest Park.

 Olathe's Fourth of July event will include children's activities, sports figures, music, a bike parade and fireworks after dark at the Great Mall of the Great Plains.

 An all-day celebration at Lake Shawnee in Topeka will include a craft show, water ski show, baseball game, concert and fireworks at dusk.

 Independence Day festivities will continue into the weekend in Perry, where organizers of a $30,000 fireworks display at Perry Lake say theirs is the biggest show in Kansas. The pyrotechnics Saturday will begin after dusk off the dam on the east side of the lake.

Bryan Best, store manager at Lake Perry Yacht and Marina, said from 30,000 to 40,000 people usually attended the daylong celebration, which includes a boat parade, sky divers and musical entertainment. Parking is $5 after 4 p.m.

"It is the biggest deal of our year. A lot of preparation goes into this," he said. "Every year, it gets bigger and better."

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