Sunday, August 25, 2002

Rides return for Lincoln Hts. festival

Company, event planners resolve problem

By Erica Solvig
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        A Covington amusement ride company that earlier this week pulled out of a Lincoln Heights festival has decided to come to the Labor Day weekend event after all.

        Star Amusement will provide two large rides and a game trailer for the Lincoln Heights Days Family Reunion Aug. 31-Sept. 2, owner Adam Wietholter said Saturday. The village was told Tuesday that the company would not be coming, but Saturday discussions led to an agreement that will be signed Monday.

        “It's resolved, and I'm relieved for the children because now we have some activities that they will enjoy,” said Patricia Stearns, co-chair of the committee that organizes the festival.

        Ms. Stearns said she got a phone call Tuesday from a woman from Star saying that the company was pulling out of the verbal contract because “you people” tear up rides.

        The continued use of “you people,” Ms. Stearns said, made the situation sound discriminatory, especially in light of last weekend's downtown disturbances following the Midwest Regional Black Family Reunion Celebration.

        “(The caller) said it didn't matter what we did or said, they weren't coming out there,” Ms. Stearns said. “But we have nothing to do with the city of Cincinnati. They're discriminating against us because of what happened in another community.”

        But Mr. Wietholter said race had nothing to do with the company's decision. The company chose not to participate after other ride vendors told them they had trouble with children harassing and throwing objects at them at previous Lincoln Heights festivals.

        This is the first time Star is participating in the 48th annual event.

        “It was a big misunderstanding,” Mr. Wietholter said. “We're not a racial company. We serve everybody the same. Everybody has the same rights as everyone else.”

        In addressing these security concerns, the village will provide a written promise that at least three police officers will be in attendance, said the Rev. Raymond Jones, executive director of Cincinnati Concerned Citizens Association, who helped mediate the situation.

        The deal is expected to be signed Monday.

        Organizers are relieved that an agreement was made since it took several months to find a ride company that was available Labor Day weekend. Last year, more than 7,000 people attended the festival.


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