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Fourth of July festival draws record attendance
A record breaking number of people poured into Celebration Park on July 4 for the city's 19th annual Red, White and Blues Festival.
Federal Way Community Center supervisor Doug Nelson gave a report to the city council July 17, saying the turnout and the work of all those involved was impressive to witness.
"It was the highest attendance ever. Estimates are about 22,000 were in attendance," Nelson said. "That's pretty amazing."
Nelson recapped the variety of events, live music and other celebrations that took place as part of the festival, especially noting the hotdog eating contest.
"One of the main contests on the main stage was the hotdog eating contest. In the future, if you don't have a lot of money in your pocket, (for) three dollars and you can eat as many hotdogs as you want," Nelson said. "There was wonderful live entertainment, lots of activities and many local food vendors to keep people well-fed and entertained."
Another success for the festival, besides the record-high attendance, was working within the confines of the budget — and actually exceeding some of the projected numbers for the festival. The projected revenues for the festival were $21,550 and the year-to-date actual is $27,000. On the expense side, the city had projected $36,000 in expenditures, but only $32,000 was spent.
"We (used) frugal innovation to keep our expenditures under what was projected for the budget, and we're also over for revenues, thanks to a $10,000 grant from 4Culture," Nelson noted.
Outside of the county's 4Culture program, Nelson said the festival's sponsors, such as Waste Management, Red Canoe Credit Union, and the Federal Way Arts Commission, were instrumental in making the event a success.
"We couldn't do this event without great community sponsors," Nelson added.
With the record attendance, Nelson said that he and his staff and other city officials are already in discussions about how to improve crowd control and parking next year. Those thoughts were echoed by Mayor Skip Priest.
"We are going to be addressing, already, issues of crowd control and traffic management. It's very clear we'll be adding more police next year for crowd safety and that will be a priority," Priest said. "We already are starting plans with the parks department to ensure the safety of our community."
Nelson shared a quick anecdote about the aftermath of the celebration and the cleanup efforts by the city to clear Celebration Park of the inevitable garbage. The day after, members of King 5 News were in Federal Way to do a report on the mess left by cities after their Fourth of July celebrations. The news crew ran into a parks department employee at Celebration Park, Nelson said. The King 5 reporter asked the employee where the celebration was, and the employee pointed out the area. The King 5 reporter turned to the parks employee and asked, "Well, where's the mess?"
According to Nelson, the parks employee explained that the city cleans up immediately following the festival, in order to make sure the park is usable the next day.
"This is just a kudos to our staff for their efforts cleaning up. We were hosting softball events the very next day," Nelson said with a smile.