Columbus announced safety measures Friday in anticipation of what Mayor Andrew J. Ginther called “our city’s biggest event of the year.”
At Red, White & Boom on Monday, the Downtown area will see more first responders, and stations will be set up to help lost children find their guardians. City leaders are also asking attendees to do their part in keeping everyone safe.
The city is addressing neighborhood safety, traffic management, roadway closures, youth engagement, fire safety, heat safety and more for Red, White & Boom, Ginther said during a Friday news conference. The event covers 2.5 miles of Downtown. The parade starts at 5:30 p.m. at the Main Street bridge, and fireworks start at 10 p.m.
More:Here’s where to find Fourth of July fireworks, parades and other events in central Ohio
Here are the Columbus Division of Police’s safety plans for Red, White and Boom:
- Put onsite officers on foot, bikes, horses and cruisers.
- Place plainclothes officers throughout the city.
- Have officers who aren’t on shift for Red, White and Boom patrolling Columbus neighborhoods.
- Use mobile cameras throughout the Downtown area.
- Police-owned watchtowers will be set up in the Downtown area.
Police Chief Elaine Bryant urged attendees to leave their valuables and weapons at home. Drones are prohibited in the Downtown area during the event, she said. While coolers are permitted, unattended ones will be confiscated, so those planning on bringing coolers should write their names and phone numbers on them.
Fire prevention inspectors will evaluate fireworks prior to their launching, Fire Chief Jeff Happ said. The Columbus Division of Fire will have staff present around the fireworks display area, and emergency medical service units will be present throughout the event site, he said.
“We are just as excited as everyone else to celebrate out nation’s independence,” Happ said. “But we know this holiday brings with it some risk, and we want to be aware of it and prepared for it.”
Child safety and engagement
The City of Columbus will set up five missing children booths in the Downtown area:
- West Long Street at the Norfolk Southern Railroad tracks
- West Street (south of Marconi Boulevard)
- The lawn of City Hall (West Broad and North Front streets)
- 200 Civic Center Drive
- The north side of the Center of Science and Industry (Washington Boulevard and West Broad Street)
There will also be a “Youth Zone” from 3-8 p.m. near the north end of COSI. It will feature live music, inflatables and food.
“The whole point of our youth zone is twofold: it’s obviously to give the children something to do before the actual event, — the fireworks — takes off, but it’s also an opportunity to have our youth engage with our first responders,” Bryant said.
Ginther implored guardians to keep tabs on their children.
“We’re doing everything within our power here at the City to promote safety and security, but we can’t be a parent to every kid in the city of Columbus,” he said.
Fire chief: Don’t shoot your own fireworks
Happ urged Columbus residents to restrain from using their own fireworks while the event is going on.
“Keep your own personal fireworks to yourself,” he said. “Keep them for when you’re out of town and you go someplace else on vacation.”
In contrast to state law, consumer-grade fireworks are not allowed in Columbus unless the user has a permit. The following items, which Happ called the “five S’s,” are permitted for use:
- Smokes (commonly referred to as “smoke bombs”)
- Sparkling fountains
Mayor: Columbus should feel safe at Red, White and Boom
Asked how he’d respond to people who fear gun violence in large crowds at Columbus events, Ginther pointed to the recent Pride march and arts festival, as well as the history of Red, White and Boom.
“I think it’s really important to look at the facts, and look at the record,” he said. “Obviously, Boom has been a great, safe family event for years.”