Today’s Taste of Marietta is the next big event on the Square, and the Marietta Police Department will add some new security elements, including two bomb-sniffing dogs and handlers loaned from other jurisdictions. Police will also employ a multi-function Polaris vehicle, a type of rugged golf cart used to move personnel and equipment in case of an emergency.
The SkyWatch mobile tower will be on site Sunday, which includes a full-motion, zoom camera that records footage, said Public Information Officer David Baldwin, who imagines there may be some private storefront cameras with limited views of the Square.
“For every event from here on out, there will be increased security measures in place to meet the needs of the events that are taking place,” said Baldwin, who anticipates the use of these extras at other large gatherings, such as the Fourth of July.
This year’s MS Walk route change was planned six months ago to accommodate wheelchairs by using surface roads. The three miles were dotted with small orange cones, and 17 officers directed traffic, according to Cara Reeve, who at the time was the event organizer for the MS Walk.
Reeve said she felt safe as a participant and did not hear any concerns from fellow walkers, many of whom pushed their kids in strollers or brought dogs.
Last year’s annual MUST Ministries’ Gobble Jog broke records with 10,874 people registered. MUST staff contacted the Marietta Police Department the day after the Boston tragedy to keep them informed of additional measures for the Thanksgiving Day activities.
For each Gobble Jog, there is a management committee of professional volunteers in place to respond to a crisis, such as ending a race and diverting runners, as Boston Marathon organizers were forced to do. MUST trusts WellStar to administer emergency responders along the course, said Reeve, who started this week as the Special Events Coordinator for MUST Ministries.
“The greatest way to remember those in Boston who lost their lives, who suffered such debilitating injuries, is that we pull off the best Gobble Jog that we have ever done,” said MUST Ministries CEO Ike Reighard. He expects the organization will show remembrance of the attack with patches on the Gobble Jog’s official shirts.
The first time Reighard attended the Gobble Jog was two years ago, and he was ready for chaos.
“It was just the opposite. It was so quiet. It was so smooth,” admitted Reighard about the larger crowd of supporters who create an almost parade-like atmosphere.
The camaraderie between walk/run enthusiasts can be seen in the Marietta community. Teams for the Gobble Jog range from a dozen members to 100 representatives of a corporation, all uniting under a purpose. Brightly colored shirts identify activists with similar passions.
“Everyone was really focused on our mission and why we were there,” said Palmer about this year’s MS Walk participants; many of whom are families with personal ties to the cause. The fundraiser exceeded the $125,000 goal.
MUST Ministries relies on the Gobble Jog to not only raise funds, but also raise the visibility of an organization that “gives dignity back to those in need by reducing insecurities,” Reighard stated.
Last year, MUST Ministries provided services to 34,000 people. One ton of food is given away every working day and, since 2007, MUST has placed 1,600 people in jobs through training and business partnerships, according to Reighard.
“I truly do believe, if MUST went away tomorrow, there would be a huge vacuum,” said Reighard, who operates with a $4.6 million budget that lessens the demand on local and state government programs.