Kipona Festival in Harrisburg beefs up security

HARRISBURG, Pa. -- The Kipona Festival kicked off in Harrisburg this weekend, but this year with more security.

Last year teenagers caused some destruction after the festival.

This year people are celebrating the festival's 100th anniversary. The event is held on Labor Day weekend by the Susquehanna River. But this year the riverfront event is different than previous years in more ways than one.

Devan Drabik, director of business development in Harrisburg, said, "We added a lot more to this year. So we have about a dozen new attractions."

And they've also added more police officers.
"We've definitely beefed up security this year. We still do have police on patrol but we also have a minimum of six police officers walking along Riverfront Park and City Island any time," Drabik said.

Last year, a group of teenagers ransacked several stores and damaged cars along Front Street. One teenager was shot during the incident and suffered non-life-threatening injuries.

But vendors said this year they feel secure with the number of officers at the event.

Molly Shortridge, a vendor at the festival, said,
"I kind of knew when I was leaving that I would be OK walking back to my car. So we're not really concerned about anything."

People who attend the event also felt safer.

Mike Geppert, from West Hanover Township in Dauphin County, said, "I mean there's plenty of people, plenty of protections. It's nice. I mean I would come back again even in the evening."

City officials said they've also taken extra measures this year to keep children out of trouble.
"We've engaged for the wrap up of the festival to be on Monday. We encouraged some community leaders, we have some pastors coming out. We've also called up parents to just watch your kids make sure they are where they're supposed to be at the end of the festival and not causing trouble," Drabik said.

The festival ends Monday at 6 p.m.