Homecomers may get a jump on set up

Monday, June 28, 2004

Homecomers will likely get to set up a day earlier this year.

The Jackson Board of Aldermen will consider a motion today at 7:30 p.m. to allow certain uptown streets to close at 9 p.m. Aug. 15 so the carnival operators can begin setting up for the annual Homecomers celebration.

The extra time will be used to make sure the carnival operators can work with firefighters and conform to the city's fire codes.

Fire chief Brad Golden offered several safety concerns after last year's Homecomers. He told the board that the carnival, set on Jackson's uptown city blocks, needed to allow an 18-foot fire lane.

Because of the age of the buildings uptown, and because the carnival allowed for no fire lane, the city would be at risk of losing the entire block in case of a fire, Golden said.

Golden also told the aldermen that several wires, used for the rides, were left exposed and laying in the middle of the street. Furthermore, security fences weren't far enough away from rides.

Bill Poe, a Homecoming organizer with Jackson's American Legion, said the layout of the Homecomers will be spread out just a bit this year.

"We've got to have an 18-foot fire lane and the street is only 44 feet wide, so that doesn't leave much more room," Poe said. "It's going to be about the same; the only thing is it might go a block farther south."

Two new rides

Poe also said the carnival will be adding two new rides this year, including a Ferris wheel.

City administrator Jim Roach said they decided to close the street at 9 p.m. because the First Baptist Church, located on High Street, has evening services.

The extra time will give the operators a chance to get the rides going sooner than last year. The festivities begin on Tuesday night. Last year, after having all day Monday to set up, some of the rides weren't turned on until 8 p.m. The owner of the carnival operation said she was short on help and had to scramble to get the electricity hooked up.

For the second straight year, Homecomers week will coincide with the beginning of school. School starts Aug. 16.

Poe said this is the last year of the American Legion's contract with the carnival outfit. He said next year he hopes to move Homecomers to the first or second week of August.



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