By Nathan Pfau, Army Flier Staff WriterJune 21, 2018
FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- Freedom Fest will feature live music, food and fun to keep the Wiregrass entertained throughout the Independence Day celebration, but Fort Rucker officials want to remind people that safety should remain a top priority.
Freedom Fest returns June 29 to the festival fields from 4-10 p.m., and when people initially arrive on the installation for the celebration, Marcel Dumais, Fort Rucker chief of police, said that festival goers should make sure they park in the designated locations depending on where they enter, keep prohibited items off the installation, and follow all rules and guidelines for the event to make sure that everyone has a safe Freedom Fest celebration.
"Ensure when you arrive on Fort Rucker that you park in the parking area for the gate you wish to exit from when the fireworks are complete," said the police chief. "As an example, if you want to leave from the Daleville gate after the fireworks, make sure you park in the Daleville parking area, because the exit routes will be strictly enforced.
"During the Freedom Fest celebration there will be multiple police personnel on the fields to assist patrons," he added. "The DPS incident command post will also be located on Field A and patrons can ask for assistance at that location. A medical tent and lost child tent will also be set up on Field A to provide assistance."
According to Dumais, signage will be in place to direct visitors to the correct parking area for their preferred gate.
"It is important for patrons to follow the parking and traffic flow plan because the plan was developed to ensure people's safety as they enter and exit the installation," he said. "There will be a number of road closures associated with Freedom Fest and it is important for people to follow the signs posted, as well as any instructions from police personnel and event staff. The egress routes are set up to move the large volume of vehicles off the installation as quickly and safely as possible. Patrons should understand that it is going to take time to get all the vehicles off the installation, so we ask for their patience up front."
Dumais also urged visitors to be patient at the end of the event as personnel work to help everyone exit the facility safely.
"I ask people to remember there (will be thousands of) people in attendance and only so many roads to exit the post -- the egress routes have been set up to allow the maximum number of vehicles to exit each of the gates as safely as possible," he said. "I ask for the public's help in making sure they park in the parking area for the gate they want to exit from, this greatly helps law enforcement, so we don't have vehicles trying to cross established routes and causing back-ups or accidents."
Visitors are also reminded that certain items are prohibited during Freedom Fest and should not be brought with them.
"No coolers, tote bags or backpacks are permitted except for medical and baby care items," Dumais said. "No pets. No fireworks. No glass containers. No weapons, to include guns, knives, pepper spray or other such items. No bicycles, scooters, roller blades or skateboards.
"The (Directorate of Public Safety) wants everyone to come out and enjoy Freedom Fest, but we ask that you do it responsibly," he added. "There will be prohibited items signs posted in the parking areas as a reminder not to bring those items on the field.
"(In years past), there were still a number of patrons that brought pets to the event -- please leave your pets at home, only certified service animals will be allowed on the festival fields," said the police chief.
This year's event will feature carnival-style rides, bounce houses for children, food and live music performed by the Maneuver Center of Excellence's rock band, Rolling Thunder, which will perform a variety of hits from artists like Michael Jackson, Pat Benatar and Stevie Wonder, to songs by modern artists like Justin Timberlake, Shawn Mendes and Carrie Underwood.
Janice Erdlitz, DFMWR marketing director, said the annual event is the perfect opportunity for Soldiers and families to celebrate the nation's independence and experience a full day of local entertainment.
"It's a wonderful opportunity to show your support for Fort Rucker," she said. "Freedom Fest is a celebration for our entire community. When we look around at our neighbors across the Wiregrass, we look forward to this day when we invite everyone out to celebrate our nation's independence with us at Fort Rucker.
Admission to the event is free and open to the public. However, people are reminded that a gate access pass is required.
Unescorted visitors planning to attend Freedom Fest music obtain a visitor's pass from one of two Visitor Control Centers prior to the day of the event.
Visitors may obtain passes from VCCs at the Daleville and Ozark gates. The Daleville VCC is open Mondays-Sundays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Ozark VCC is open Mondays-Fridays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. If you plan on attending this year's Freedom Fest celebration, Dumais recommends people come a few days early to get an access control pass.