BOWLING GREEN - Police and Secret Service agents canvassed downtown businesses and residences yesterday, letting townspeople know they don't have to close or leave for tomorrow's visit by presidential hopeful John Kerry, but they'll be expected to follow some strict rules.
Access to buildings on North Main Street from Wooster to Clay Street will be closed off for the rally, slated for between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m.
"Anyone who's got a view of the secured area will be under some serious restrictions," Police Chief Tom Votava said.
"Most of the businesses agreed to voluntarily close in the restricted area."
People who live in the upper-story apartments will not be permitted to open windows, he said, and their apartments could be searched for security purposes.
Most downtown streets and parking lots will be closed so visitors are strongly encouraged to park at Bowling Green State University's Doyt L. Perry Stadium just off I-75 at East Wooster Street. Shuttle buses will be available to take people downtown.
"Wooster Street will remain open, but we are definitely encouraging people to avoid that area. It's going to be very congested," said Lori Tretter, spokesman for the city.
Rally goers will assemble near Main and Court streets; the nearby Wood County District Public Library will be closed for the day, said Mary Callahan Boone, a reference librarian.
Gates to the secured area where the rally will be held open at 1:30 p.m., and visitors will pass through "airport-style security" before being admitted.
Wood County Democrats are hoping for a big crowd for the visit by Senator Kerry, his wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, and Mr. Kerry's running mate, Sen. John Edwards, and his wife, Elizabeth Edwards.
Volunteers interested in doing everything from making signs to passing out water bottles during the rally are invited to a meeting at Democratic headquarters on East Court Street at 6 tonight.
City officials called the Kerry visit a great opportunity to show off downtown Bowling Green, which recently underwent a $6.25 million beautification project as well as a landscaping boost for this year's America In Bloom contest.
"I think they're looking for the classic hometown Midwest America," said Earlene Kilpatrick, director of Main Street BG.
"We are certainly a wonderful community to portray that, plus we have the diversity of the university.... It's absolutely exciting whether you're a Republican or a Democrat."
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