A day after safety concerns forced organizers to pull the plug on the carnival rides at Parkville’s July Fourth Celebration, organizers rushed Thursday to bring an alternative attraction to the popular Northland festival.
The Main Street Parkville Association, which organizes the annual event, worked with the city to come up with “Plan B” — an inflatable village.
“What has been really exciting … is our local community merchants, and members of the community are calling and asking how they can help,” said Danelle Nichols, the association’s director. “Parkville is an amazing community, I have always known that, but it is shining this morning to me.”
The association announced Wednesday evening that the rides wouldn’t operate because they failed to pass two safety inspections earlier in the day.
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“Due to the complexity and number of violations, the best option was to close the carnival rides for the duration of the celebration,” the association explained on Facebook. “This decision was made in the interest of safety for all visitors to downtown Parkville. There will still be a great July 4 celebration in downtown Parkville.”
The Southern Platte Fire Protection District and the Amusement Ride Safety Unit of the Missouri Department of Public Safety conducted the safety inspections Wednesday afternoon. The inspection reports were not available Thursday.
However, Mike O’Connell, the communications director for the Missouri Department of Public Safety, said violations were found with three rides.
In an email briefly summarizing the violations, O’Connell said that a section of metal roofing on the car for the roller coaster was rusted through on three of four sides, creating a potential for the roof to touch riders.
On a kid carousel, seat belts didn’t function properly, which could affect the restraint of riders. Also, tires on the ride were flat, which could affect its smooth operation.
For the dragon ride, the inspector found that seats were not securely attached, which also could affect rider restraint. Finally, a safety fence was missing spindles, which could allow children to enter the ride operation area.
If safety issues affect a certain component of a ride, that component can be placed out of service allowing the rest of ride to operate, O’Connell said.
“These were not just simple components of the ride that could be handled in that manner,” he said. “This was something that would interfere with the whole safety of the ride.”
The carnival ride operator, Bluff City Shows of Fisk, Mo., could have fixed the violations, but the Main Street Parkville Association decided to close the rides.
Officials with Bluff City Shows could not be reached for comment.
Missouri requires amusement ride operators to have each ride pass an annual safety inspection by a state-approved inspector. Missouri Division of Fire Safety employees also conduct unannounced spot inspections. It was a spot inspection that caught the safety issues in Parkville.
Inspection records show that Bluff City Shows’ rides were inspected in April.
People wondering whether a ride has been inspected should look for an adhesive operating permit that the Missouri Division of Fire Safety issues. The permit is to be placed on or near the ride’s control panel or operator’s station.
“We would advise parents and adults who are there to be on the look out for a problem, and if they see something that they think isn’t safe to let us know and also go to the organizers of that carnival or event and let them know,” O’Connell said. “It never hurts to have another set of eyes out there.”
Parkville’s July Fourth Celebration is a popular annual festival that has been held for decades.
“It’s a very exciting community event each year,” Nichols said. “It’s one where you have the whole community come together for the pancake breakfast at the American Legion, and then everyone comes down to Main Street to watch the parade. Families look forward to it. It’s a tradition for our local community.”
The festival started Wednesday night with the typical food vendors with hot dogs, cotton candy and frozen lemonades. Nonprofit organizations and church groups also had booths.
The carnival rides were supposed to be an added attraction, something that has been done for years. The rides help offset the cost of the festival, which runs about $19,000, Nichols said.
The association will probably have to rearrange its budget for the year because of the lack of rides, she said.
Lauren Palmer, Parkville’s city administrator, said this was the first time that Bluff City Shows had operated in the city. The previous operator was not available.
“Of course it’s disappointing, but we are trying to look on the bright side,” Palmer said. “We are still planning a fantastic Fourth of July celebration in Parkville.”
The celebration offers a lot of other events, she said, including the fireworks display with beautiful views over the Missouri River.
For a schedule of activities, go to the Main Street Parkville Association’s website.