For over 20 years, the India Day festival has attracted crowds to the Esplanade to celebrate India’s independence day with cultural events at the Hatch Shell and food provided by local vendors. However, due to rising security costs in the wake of the Marathon Bombings, this year's festival — originally scheduled for Sunday — has been moved to Andover. That’s a loss for Boston: Either private investors, the city, or the state should step in to make sure this important symbol of diversity stays in town, where it can attract visitors from throughout the region.
Event organizers said that, due to increased State Police costs, holding the festival at the Hatch Shell would require an additional $20,000, a price they call “inappropriate for a nonprofit organization.” State Police say that to secure the area properly they would need special K-9 and marine officers, who earn $79 an hour for overtime, in addition to regular officers.
An extra $20,000 is quite costly for a nonprofit cultural organization, but affordable for either the State Police, who patrol the Esplanade, or the Boston police, who cover most other sites in the city. Next year, India Day organizers should reach out to supporters to try to raise money to cover the extra security. If they can’t meet their goal, the city and state should look for ways to offset the bill.
The Marathon bombings changed the security equation for many public gatherings in Boston, and governments should step in to make sure that cultural organizations aren’t overwhelmed by the costs. Safety must be a priority, but everyone would lose out if the cost of extra precautions drove important events away from Boston.