By Susan Redden
Globe Staff Writer
CARTHAGE, Mo. —
Organizers are preparing for the heat — as well as tens of thousands of visitors — as they get ready for the annual Marian Days celebration, which begins Thursday in Carthage.
Triple-digit temperatures are not expected to affect turnout for the festival for Vietnamese Catholics on the campus of the Congregation of the Mother Co-Redemptrix.
The event is held in early August each year, “and it’s always hot,” observed the Rev. Timothy Tran, CMC spokesman.
Capt. Randee Kaiser, assistant chief of the Carthage Police Department, said the campus will include “lots of cooling stations,” and bottled water will be stockpiled for officers working security.
The weather event that might have an impact, both Tran and Kaiser said, is the May 22 tornado in Joplin.
Tran said CMC officials have fielded lots of calls from potential Marian Days visitors wanting to know if Carthage also was hit.
“That might affect our turnout a little bit, but we’re expecting the normal numbers,” he said.
Kaiser said he thinks the aftermath of the tornado might translate to more visitors camping on or around the CMC campus at Fairview and Grand avenues. The area normally is filled with campers, but Marian Days visitors also fill up hotels in Carthage and the area, he noted. This year, many hotels have been filled by people displaced by the tornado and by volunteers who are helping with the rebuilding.
Wendi Douglas, director of the Carthage Convention and Visitors Bureau, said “quite a few emergency personnel” working in Joplin are staying in Carthage. She said those planning on attending Marian Days normally make their reservations in January.
“Our hotels intend to honor those reservations, so there is going to be some shuffling,” she said.
Patrick Tuttle, of the Joplin Convention and Visitors Bureau, said he had not talked with motel managers specifically about Marian Days. But, citing reservations made for other events, he said hotels “that have commitments are honoring them.”
Kaiser said six different law enforcement agencies will help Carthage police during Marian Days, and scheduling for those officers is complete. Officers will come from the Jasper County Sheriff’s Department, and the Joplin, Webb City, Carl Junction, Carterville and Oronogo police departments.
“I was worried that we wouldn’t be able to schedule officers out of Joplin; I thought they might be burned out on overtime because of the tornado,” he said. “I think they might be ready for a change of pace.”
Officers patrol the grounds and work roadblocks to control traffic in and around the event. Using the additional officers allows Carthage to ensure security at the event and continue regular patrols in other parts of the city.
The Carthage City Council last week approved a resolution authorizing street closings and other steps to accommodate the Marian Days celebration.