BOWLING GREEN - John Kerry's downtown rally Sunday afternoon cost taxpayers nearly $25,000 in overtime for city workers and law enforcement officers.
"The way we're looking at it is, whenever there's an event in Bowling Green - whether it's the Black Swamp Arts Festival or whatever - the city provides support services," said Lori Tretter, spokesman for the city. "For the safety of those participating in the event and to help people throughout the community it is necessary for us to provide support services."
Included in the bills that came in yesterday:
●Police division: 288.5 hours of overtime at a cost of $10,240.
●Public works division: 220 hours of overtime at a cost of $6,037.
●Fire/EMS division: 77.1 hours of overtime at a cost of $1,989.
●Electric division: 11 hours of overtime at a cost of $439.
●Wood County Sheriff's Office: 120 hours of overtime for an estimated $3,500.
●BGSU police: eight officers on overtime for an estimated $2,400.
Despite the cost, city officials agreed the event, which featured Senator Kerry and his running mate, U.S. Sen. John Edwards, went incredibly well: no arrests, no security problems - just a lot of people, some of them overheated.
Police Chief Tom Votava said officials figured 12,000 to 15,000 people were crammed onto Main Street with only about 6,000 fitting into the cordoned-off rally area between Wooster and Court streets. Chief Votava said city paramedics handled about 16 calls for medical emergencies, most heat-related.
"There was pretty good compliance all the way around," the chief said. "There were problems but they weren't in violation of the law. They were just people exercising their First Amendment rights."
While not all visitors were happy about the heat and crowded conditions, Kerry supporters were thrilled at the turnout.
"It was incredible," said Al Baldwin, chairman of Wood County Democratic Party.
Organizers first expected 5,000 people would show up for the rally, but as the demand for the free tickets grew, they upped the number to 7,500.
The actual attendance was double that.
"The crowd was unbelievable," said Bill Blair, public works director.
Volunteers and city employees worked until 10 p.m. Sunday to clean up the rally area and get Main Street reopened to traffic.
"We think it went extremely well," Mr. Blair said. "Afterward, both the Kerry advance team and the Secret Service complimented us on a job well done. We owe that to experience from having done it before."
Bowling Green had hosted Presidents Ronald Reagan in 1984 and 1988, Bill Clinton in 1996, George H.W. Bush in 1992, and Gerald Ford in 1976, and presidential candidate John F. Kennedy in 1959.
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