U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl’s hometown of Hailey, Idaho, has canceled a celebration of the soldier’s safe return because it doesn’t have the infrastructure to handle the expected crowds.
The town released a statement Wednesday, that said, according to local TV station KTVB:
Hailey community members who worked during March and April of this year to organize their annual Bring Bowe Back event in Hailey have asked to cancel the event.
When the news of Bowe Bergdahl’s release was announced this past Saturday, the organizers joyfully declared that the event would be renamed Bowe is Back, and would become a celebration of family and friends being reunited with their son who was had been held captive in Afghanistan for five years. In the past, the event had been a celebration of support to the family through these many years.
National media attention on Hailey and this event has led many across the nation to believe that the event is intended to be a military parade. There is broad interest in this topic, as evidenced by the approximate 100 correspondences per day received by the City of Hailey this week. The organizers and Hailey expect a significant increase in attendance to this event, by people who both want to support or protest against it.
In the interest of public safety, the event will be cancelled. Hailey, a town of 8,000, does not have the infrastructure to support an event of the size this could become.
“I think it’s just too soon in this process,” Bergdahl family spokesperson, Sue Martin told KTVB. “I think there’s a lot of emotions involved here. I think the family needs some time to heal and a public event with celebration — for me, personally knowing Bowe, knowing his family — it would be hard for me to celebrate.”
Other residents are not feeling like celebrating, either. Many have been fielding angry calls since talk of Bergdahl’s desertion has ramped up, according to NBC News.
Hailey Chamber of Commerce President Jane Drussel said she was shocked at how bad some of the calls have been, and how many tourists are canceling vacation plans to the town.
“I just find that shocking,” Drussel told NBC News. “You know, we’re Americans, and we need to act like Americans, and to me that’s un-American. Let things play out, and if there needs to be action taken, I’m sure it will be taken. But that’s not the city of Hailey’s responsibility.”
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