By Laura Ann Sills - email
COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - It has been called the biggest free concert in the South. And, the heat is not expected to keep thousands of people from the 24th annual Family Day in the Park on Saturday.
This year's celebration at Cooper Creek Park is a celebration a quarter century in the making.
"For those who do not get a chance to go away for vacation and things like that, this becomes that opportunity for families to come out and enjoy themselves," said Michael Soul, Davis Broadcasting.
The celebration of Black Music Month brings artists from hip hop, R&B, gospel and blues genres.
With the heat index this year peaking at 100 degrees, the number one issue on Columbus Police's Major Barker-Wright's mind. "It is going to be extremely hot. We will have paramedics here and they will be in the crowd. We will have a cooling tent for the crowd so they do not get overheated."
"Traffic is usually extremely heavy out there, during the time they are entering the park. We are just keeping everybody safe while they are here," the Major told News Leader Nine.
Officials warn that if you do not have to be in the area, avoid it. If you do head towards the park, they ask for patience.
In years past there have been reports of violence at the concert, some leading to arrests. Police patrols were stepped up and in 2008 and 2009 News Leader Nine did not report any arrests. Columbus Police say they will be on hand this year, like every year, for crowd and traffic control.
There have also been reports of violence at Peachtree Mall after the concert. Mall officials said they have a comprehensive security plan for events like this one, and they do not expect any problems.