Gibraltar 4th of July fest proceeds after rides shuttered over safety concerns

Posted at 6:06 PM, Jul 04, 2024

GIBRALTAR, Mich. (WXYZ) — Fourth of July festivities are in full effect across metro Detroit including the 60th annual celebration in the city of Gibraltar.

This year, there's one glaring observation to be had at the carnival. There are carnival games, food and face-painting but no rides. The city said its a safety precaution.

7 News Detroit discussed the issue with Gibraltar Mayor Garrett Shumate, who explained what happened.

“We had a prior carnival partner that had gone out of business. We tried to do everything we could to move mountains and secure a new carnival partner this year for the Fourth of July festivities. Upon that arrival, the carnival partner we had selected and vetted, we started doing our inspections and asking for the documentation," the mayor explained.

Gibraltar Mayor Garrett Shumate

“Bottom line, after we did our inspection... going back to my data driven decision-making... we were not happy with what we landed upon.”

The city posted the decision on its Facebook page. It did not name the ride operator. The post states the city’s electrical engineer reviewed the ride operator's documentation, certifications and performed inspections and found, for example, one ride had a sign on it that read “do not operate.”

Also, the ride operator “did not deliver the contracted number of rides.” The post states some of the rides actually belonged to another organization.

“I would not have put my kids on that ride and would not expect our residents to do the same. So, we made a very difficult decision to terminate our partnership with that carnival. Our residents have rallied around it,” Shumate said.

Dozens of positive comments are below the post. 7 News Detroit set out to get feedback from carnival-goers directly.

“I’m kind of sad that there’s no rides, but it’s still fun,” Gibraltar resident Aaron Ball said.

Ariana Grima said, “It’s sad that there’s no rides 'cause it’s something I was looking forward to, but it’s a safety hazard. We don’t want someone else to get hurt because someone else wanted to go on a ride.”

Cindy Lehr, who has grandchildren and is also the former longtime city clerk, said, “I said kudos to them. We all want our kids to be safe. It’s a non-issue. We’ll still have a good time with or without rides.”

Cody Dill, a Gibraltar resident and former city councilman, said, “It’s unfortunate, but I believe the city made the right decision. Safety is paramount, especially when our kids are on it.”

When asked how the city plans to avoid this situation next year, Shumate said, "The carnival industry, from what I’ve been told and understand, has had a hard time. I think many of the companies have gone out of business. I think one thing we will do is, I’ve already had a lot of neighboring communities reach out with experts and the carnival and event planning space. So will going to play on our network is number one."

"Number two, we’re going make sure that while we had a great contract that was not abided by in this Fourth of July festivity, thus what we discussed, we're going to make sure we get ahead of the ball," he added.

Shumate said that means making sure they have the right rides set up and ensuring rides are inspected before they make it to Gibraltar. Lastly, he said the city will learn from this experience.