By Lauren Estes
The Cullman Times
Officials with the Cullman County Sheriff’s Office said Smith Lake Park faced no major issues during their annual Fourth of July Blowout and fireworks show on Thursday.
Sheriff Mike Rainey said traffic was a major issue during the 2012 event and 2013 saw much improvement and no incidents.
“There were no problems, whatsoever,” Rainey said. “We had a lot of traffic issues last year and this year we had about the same amount of people, but it flowed a lot smoother. Everything went well.”
Rainey said events like Smith Lake’s Blowout always have potential for dangerous situations to occur and can get out of hand quickly because of the large crowds, forcing authorities to be prepared for anything.
“In the past I’ve seen it get bad there, but we just have to prepare for the worst and hope for the best,” Rainey said. “We gave all those attending a heads up ahead of time, letting them know we would not tolerate alcohol or any drugs and their vehicles are subjected to be searched. We keep a presence there to keep it from happening.”
Sergeant Eric Ryan has been working with the Smith Lake Park Fourth of July event for 20 years and said 2013 was one of the best.
“The flow of traffic following the event, the lack of incidents and just the whole event was one of the best I’ve seen,” Ryan said. “We usually have a few issues, especially with traffic, but we were able to utilize the cones and keep people moving after it was over. Everything was also cleaned up in a fast fashion; It was the smoothest year we’ve had that I can remember.”
Rainey commended the effort and leadership of Capt. Ricky Blackwood who headed up this year’s blowout and said he was one of the reasons the celebration was so successful.
“Captain Blackwood did a great job planning the event and seeing it through without incident,” Rainey said. “All those who were on patrol, working all day in the rain, did great and were key in keeping the traffic back-ups at a minimum and seeing that the citizens followed the park rules. I also wanted to thank all those who attended for making smart choices and helping the family-oriented event continue to grow each year.”
Alabama State Trooper Spokesperson reported there were no accidents with fatalities or injuries in Cullman on the Fourth of July.
Lauren Estes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 256-734-2131, ext. 137.