Drivers, spectators kept at idle during weekend cruises

Two annual car cruises in Branson last weekend went off better than expected police and event organizers say. Cruisin’ Branson Lights and Shepherd’s Super Summer Cruise both held midnight cruises, on Friday and Saturday nights, with hundreds of cars. As many as 80,000 spectators were in town for the events.

Careless driving, reckless acts and drinking marred last year’s events, but Branson police say this year seemed to run smoother. “Overall it went well, but that was a direct result of the additional resources,” Branson Assistant Police Chief Caroll McCullough said.

Police officers from the Taney County Sheriff’s Department, Missouri State Highway Patrol and Springfield Police Department also patrolled the cruises.

There were numerous citations issued and arrests made. McCullough said the exact number of citations and arrests would not be available until the end of the week. “There were some careless and reckless driving incidents, and I think we had less fight calls than we had last year,” McCullough noted.

Cruisin’ Branson Lights Event Director Jerry Titus said the knowledge that the cruise’s status was in jeopardy seemed to help prevent some of the dangerous situations. “I couldn’t see Highway 76 all of the time, but I’ve got a gut feeling that it went better than last year,” he said. “I drove on Highway 76 Sunday, and I can usually gage the recklessness by the black marks on the road. I didn’t see near as many as I saw the year before.”

Titus said Cruisin’ Branson Lights will be held Aug. 25-28 next year to avoid conflict with the state fair, allowing for more law enforcement authorities to be involved.

“I think the police presence curtailed a lot of the (dangerous) actions,” he said. “I saw a lot of happy people wrapped up in blankets along Highway 76 watching the cars and having a good time.”

Courtesy of Branson Daily Independent

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