St. Louis Post-Dispatch from St. Louis, Missouri on July 6, 1982 · Page 6
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St. Louis Post-Dispatch from St. Louis, Missouri · Page 6

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St. Louis, Missouri
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Tuesday, July 6, 1982
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Page 6
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6A Tues., Julv 6, 1982 ST. LOUIS POST-OISKATCK VP Fair 1-r I It U 11 , i M 1 t i i - ' IP feT u f ' I f ?: fa - ir -ma ififctiiaiiiitYW?i. - 'a I in 4 Jerry Naunheim Jr.Post-Dispatch Singer Elton John, wearing a St. Louis police sergeant's uniform supplied by Police Lt. Col. James Hackett (left), was able to make an unnoticed arrival at the Riverfront for his performance Monday. Elton John Plays Decoy To Duck Fair Admirers By Tommy Robertson and Phyllis Brasch Of the Post-Dispatch Staff Rock superstar Elton John was unrecognizable when he arrived at the VP Fair on Monday which was just the way the St. Louis Police Department planned his entrance. While nearly 800,000 people milled around beneath the Arch in anticipation of John's appearance on stage, the usually highly identifiable entertainer slipped backstage unnoticed. He was disguised in the uniform of a St. Louis police officer. The masquerade was the idea of Lt. Col. James J. Hackett, chief of field operations. "We thought it very important securitywise to come up with a way to deceive the groupies," Hackett said. Hackett arranged tp pick up John at the Sheraton St. Louis Hotel, 910 North Seventh Street. About an hour before he went on stage at 2:30 p.m., John, wearing his blue uniform, walked through the lobby unnoticed and hopped into the marked patrol car. "Not a living human being paid any attention to him," said Hackett. "He even fooled some of the people in his group." During the ride, Hackett said, he and John talked about sports and the weather. Before they arrived at the backstage area, 24 policemen some with German shepherds and others mounted on horses closed the security gates behind a black limousine with opaque windows. The eyes and cameras of the fans were glued on the Cadillac. But John wasn't in it. When he and Hackett did arrive in the police car they were able to move easily through the crowd and into the backstage trailer. Minutes later, John shed his police blues for the flashier attire of a matador. A As John was blending in with St. Louis' finest, the Caruthers were conspicuous by their attire. Among the tens of thousands of shirtless young men, Angelo Caruthers stood among the masses dressed in a white linen suit, as his wife, Marie, stood alongside in a yellow chiffon dress. "We normally don't attend rock concerts dressed like this," said the investment banker from Cincinnati, "but then it's not often we get an opportunity to see Elton John for free." He said that they had come to St. Louis to visit friends and relatives and were going to attend the Municipal Opera production of "The Sound of Music" on Monday night. Mrs. Caruthers said they had had lunch at the Marriott Pavilion Hotel, 1 South Broadway. "And we thought we'd do a little sightseeing downtown and come over here and listen to the music. But we had no idea it was going to be like this," she said while gazing across the Hundreds of thousands of concert-goers. When last seen, the two were wending their way to the Museum of Westward Expansion beneath the Arch. r -ir "I'm pooped," sighed Beth Hagler, who is a park ranger assigned to the exit of the Charles Russell art exhibit inside the Arch's museum. She explained Monday that she was working her seventh consecutive day at the museum, a tour of duty prompted by the holiday and the VP Fair. The specter of thousands of people seeking shelter from the heat by going within the museum seemed to lengthen her day considerably. "We had 46,500 people Saturday and another 36,000 people in here yesterday," she said. "We had so many in here at one time yesterday we had to close the doors until some of them left. I think we may have been approaching a problem with the fire marshal." Ms. Hagler said some of those seeking relief from the heat did manage to wander through the various museum exhibits, including the exhibit by Russell. "Of the 36,000 people in here Sunday, I'd say about 3,000 toured the Russell exhibit," she said. "But it was more of a quality rather than a quantity kind of thing because those who did go through seemed to really enjoy themselves." She said the exhibit would change July 17 as more examples of Russell's work replaced those now on display. Cleanup O FROM PAGE ONE it used to." But Bob Kelly, facility manager for the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, says it will be a year before the site returns to normal. Kelly said that last year the VP Fair committee was charged only $18,000 for repairs, "and we actually did two-' thirds of what had to be done." This year the bill will be far larger, Kelly said. William E. Maritz, president and general chairman of VP Fair Inc., said today that the organization was prepared to pay for all damage. "We're going to do the total job, whatever it takes. It will be considerably more than last year, maybe even double." Charles H. Wallace, general director of the fair, said the organization would have additional expenses because of the damages. "The important thing is to put the park back the way it was," Wallace said. "That's our commitment to those people, if we want to have a place to hold the fair next year. I don't know where else we could have it." Kelly doesn't mind so much that all the goldfish in the reflecting pools were killed over the weekend. He doesn't even mind the patches of yellow stubble where a blend of five grasses specially formulated for the site once thrived. "The main thing is that they are trying to make a fairgrounds out of a place designed as a people park," Kelly said. "Sure, some of the parks in Washington are used that way, but they have access roads on either side and they were designed for that sort of pressure. "There is only one service road for trucks in the whole Jefferson National Expansion Memorial. And what we have seen is 40-foot over-the-road semis being driven over what are sidewalks, I FROM PAGE ONE year, but he didn't think the event should become any bigger. This year's fair was the nation's largest Independence Day holiday celebration. "We believe it has to stay a three-day event because it is taxing our volunteers who have other full-time jobs," Wallace said. "I don't think we want to get any bigger." Maritz agreed, saying, "I think we had just about as many people as we could handle. I don't think it was too many." He called the fair a "spectacular" event. The huge crowds generally were orderly, police reported. The jovial feeling that prevailed throughout most of the weekend was marred by a shooting incident Sunday night in which two men were killed and a woman was injured. The two men killed in the shooting on Wharf Street Douglas K. File, 25, of 5200 block of Bonita Avenue and Robert J. Norwood, 21, of 3400 block of Osage Street were described as innocent bystanders caught in a racial quarrel. Detective Sgt. Steven Jacobsmeyer of the homicide squad said the only way police could prevent such an incident would be to bar alcohol from the fairgrounds. "If they want to have a peaceful crowd, they shouldn't sell liquor, he said. pedestrian passageways. We told the VP people not to bring in those big trucks, but they didn't listen," Kelly said. He pointed out severe damage to more than 50 of the Rose Hill ash trees that only this summer are beginning to form a canopy over those walks. Limbs had been broken off by big trucks driving on the walks; large strips of bark had been torn off. Four trees had been completely destroyed. Deep ruts edged many of the walks. In many places, the ground has been so compacted that grass will not be able to grow well again, he said. The area in front of the main stage under the Arch was a wasteland of mud today. The solution is far more difficult than simply reseeding in mid-August, Kelly said. "The area is very delicately graded, sort of corrugated with drainage tile under the lower areas. That is going to have to be completely regraded, and it is going to be a lot harder than it was in the beginning because there is an irrigation system 14 inches underground." Kelly said he knew that many of the 875 irrigation heads that water the grounds had been destroyed. But Kelly praised some of the participants. "Pevely Dairy and 9 0 5 did a superb job keeping the area around them immaculate. So did Six Flags St. Louis and the Cahokia Indians. "And both organizations responsible for getting electricity from our underground power system to the vendors did a superb job Ron Bevalo, the engineer with Union Electric, and Guarantee Electric, which did the actual physical hooking up. They were as good as their word; we said no big trucks and they did it the way we wanted," Kelly said. Fair organizers said one reason for the larger-than-expectsd turnout was the entertainment featured on the eight stages spread throughout the fairgrounds. Wallace said the smaller, satellite stages had attracted local talent, which, in turn, attracted local crowds. He said the fair would stick with the concept next year. With the record crowds and record revenue achieved this year, fair organizers plan to stick with the same basic plan, Wallace said. "I think we've seen the extent of what we can do," he said. "Now, the mission is to fine-tune the concept." Fair organizers plan to maintain the same grounds for next year's fair, Wallace said. This year's fair was expanded to include Laclede's Landing; the landing will be included in next year's fair, Wallace said. Fair organizers also plan to feature big-name entertainers an aspect Wallace said had contributed greatly to the fair's success. "We found out this year if you give them a first-class show, they're going to come," he said. Wallace said he hoped to expand the sports aspect of the fair. He hopes to make an annual event out of the St. Louis Criterium, a bicycle race that was introduced this year, he said. The scorching sun and high humidity contrasted sharply with last year's fair, which was marked by downpours. Most of this year's rain fell during the nights. The showers, particularly 3 inches of rain that fell early Sunday, caused some damage to booths on the fairgrounds. The damage was repaired by the time the fair opened. The rain also helped make many areas of the fairgrounds into near-quagmires, particularly in areas where the crowds were heavy. Many people at the festivities looked like mud wrestlers after losing several attempts to keep their footing. Fair organizers were in constant touch with the National Weather Service. Powerboat races scheduled for Sunday had to be canceled because of high water on the Mississippi River. Light sprinkles late Sunday failed to scatter the crowd at a concert by the Beach Boys. Maritz said he had been concerned that there would be trouble in clearing the area in front of the main stage for the Bob Hope show because of the late start of the Beach Boys concert. That area had to be cleared for the 1,200 people who bought special reserved seat tickets for $100 each for the benefit of Cardinal Glennon Memorial Hospital for Children and St. Louis Children's Hospital. But the crowd dispersed easily when it was asked, which Maritz called "remarkable." Bill Keenan, a spokesman for Children's Hospital, said the sales of tickets was somewhat disappointing. Two thousand of the special reserved seats had been set aside. "People just don't want to come down in all this heat," Kennan said. "It's as simple as that." For those who did attend, Hope entertained for more than an hour. He later told fair officials that the audience had been one of the largest and finest he ever had. The lure of free, live entertainment from such performers as Hope coaxed millions of people to the riverfront. Three nights of razzle-dazzle fireworks persuaded many of them to stay late into the night, creating traffic jams on normally deserted downtown streets. Wallace said the larger-than-expected crowds had created other logistical problems for organizers. He said the hungry and parched crowd had made it more difficult to resupply 30 concession booths operated by the fair. Those booths plus 90 independent food concessionaires sold thousands of sandwiches and hundreds of gallons of soft drinks and beer to wash them down, he said. Dale Singer, Jan Paul and Jim Mosley of the Post-Dispatch staff contributed information to this report. Now! 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