CARTHAGE, Mo. (AP) - Authorities are increasing security at a festival that draws tens of thousands of Vietnamese Catholics to southwestern Missouri each year.
Carthage police are starting roadblocks Monday - two days earlier than normal - for the Marian Days celebration, The Joplin Globe reported (https://bit.ly/2aEamS5 ). The festival begins Thursday on the grounds of the Congregation of the Mother of Co-Redemptrix, a Vietnamese monastery.
Police Chief Greg Dagnan said the stepped-up security won’t be obvious to most participants and that it was necessary because “of everything that’s going on around the country and the world.”
“It’s an extremely large crowd, all non-Caucasian, and we have to realize it just takes one person filled with hate,” he said.
The event began in 1977 as a way to honor Mary, the mother of Jesus. The celebration also reunites families and friends separated after the fall of Saigon in 1975.
Marian Days security shifted after 2003, when there was a stabbing death linked to Asian gang members. At the request of officials at the Congregation of the Mother Co-Redemptrix, anyone with gang affiliations is banned and all cars driving into the CMC complex must go through police roadblocks. There have been fewer issues with Asian gangs each year since, police said.
Police estimate that 50,000 to 70,000 people will attend, but the numbers grow each year, and Dagnan said those attending say more people are coming because they see the celebration as a safe place to come and worship.
Some early arrivers already have started pitching tents and won’t initially go through police roadblocks. But Dagnan said officers are walking through the complex visiting with those who already have arrived.
“Most of them have come every year,” he said. “A lot of those who came early are helping the (CMC) fathers get things ready. Some others have staked out good camping spots and then have gone off to visit tourist attractions in the area.”
Information from: The Joplin (Mo.) Globe, https://www.joplinglobe.com
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