INDEPENDENCE, Mo. — It’s a new year, and possibly a new slate of plans for parts of the SantaCaliGon Days festival.
On Monday night, the Independence City Council will listen to the first reading of an ordinance proposed by Councilmember Brice Stewart, that would require organizers to submit a safety plan before a carnival event permit is issued.
Stewart defines “carnival” as an event with amusement or thrill rides, reminiscent of the SantaCaliGonDays Festival carnival, held every Labor Day weekend in the city.
In September 2021, a shooting injured four people on the final day of the festival. Brice said he doesn’t want to see that happen again.
“It needs to be a family friendly event, we don’t need people coming in there with guns and shooting other people,” he said.
The plan calls for perimeter security, private security, and enforcing event rules. It must also address the possibility of patting or using wands before people enter. The city manager and police chief would approve the plan before giving organizers an event permit.
Stewart said he welcomes public feedback on the ordinance, but said it’s what’s best to maintain the reputation of the SantaCaliGon Days Festival as a whole.
“You go to Worlds of Fun or Silver Dollar City, any event, you will have your bag checked, you are going through metal detectors. Why should this one be any different?” he said.
The Independence Chamber, who organizes the event, said they are already a step ahead.
In a statement, the organization said in part:
“We are looking over the language and will send the Council some of the issues as it relates to SCG. In the grand scope of things, many of the things being suggested are already being planned for this year’s festival. Every year, we develop a comprehensive safety plan for the festival, and we tweak it based on past experiences. We will work with City officials to assure the safety of those attending the festival.”
Some locals welcome the change in security, as the festival also equals revenue for Independence’s downtown centre, where the festival’s main stage is set, and where local businesses hope to attract patrons during the event.
“I think that will benefit them better in the future especially with COVID people don’t want to get out as it is,” Melissa Johnson said. “Not only do they not want to get sick, they also want to be safe.”
The original draft also banned minors under the age of 18 unless they had a parent or guardian. That provision was removed from the agenda before it was made public. The ordinance will be voted upon by city council after a second hearing is issued.