Mall security, police ready festival plans

Columbus Police and Peachtree Mall are polishing their security plans for Saturday’s Family Day in the Park.

The event, held from noon to 6 p.m. in Cooper Creek Park off Milgen Road, drew about 18,000 people last year and creates heavy traffic in the Milgen Road and Manchester Expressway areas before, during and after the concert hours.

As usual, Columbus police plan to handle traffic and security at the park, while Peachtree Mall plans to have its normal security on duty on Saturday.

Two years ago Peachtree Mall closed down because of sudden overcrowding after Family Day’s conclusion. Chris McCoy, Peachtree Mall general manager, said there are no special plans for security on Saturday, but the mall has a comprehensive security plan that takes into account all e ve n t s h a p p e n i n g i n Columbus.

“This is a positive event for the city and it is our intent to make the mall a positive shopping experience for everyone,” he said.

Columbus Police Maj. Wanna Barker-Wright said about 35 officers have been hired to handle security at the park Saturday. She said officers will also direct traffic and put up signs warning people about heavy traffic.

“There will be paramedics on the scene because the heat will be so bad,” Wright said. “There will also be a beat officer patrolling the area as usual around the mall and the park area.”

Wright said several police officers have been hired to work in the mall along with the mall security officers.

“We are encouraging parents to pick up their children from the concert around 5 p.m.,” she said. “Things should begin winding down around that time, and officers will be getting children out of the park around then.”

After the 2006 Family Day, the mall closed two hours early, at 7 p.m., at the re q u e s t o f p o l i c e a n d security officers. After the concert, people packed into the mall. A fight broke out, and a jewelry and watch kiosk was overturned. Columbus police were called to help empty the building and three people were arrested in connection with the fight.

Last year’s event brought many concert-goers to the mall, but mainly to escape the heat. McCoy said they expect more people at the mall on S aturday than usual.

Family Day in the Park, sponsored by Davis Broadcasting, will feature 15 musical acts as well as food vendors and games for children. The concert is free to the public.