Public invited to Humphreys’ July 4 event
June 28, 2008
PYEONGTAEK, South Korea — Camp Humphreys will use the July 4 weekend to open its doors to the South Korean general public for the first time since 9/11, officials said Thursday.
It will invite the public to events July 4-5 and give them full access to the swimming pool, bowling alley, concerts, fireworks display and other planned events, said Bob McElroy, spokesman for U.S. Army Garrison Humphreys.
"This fest is the first time we have opened it up to the public since 9/11," he said. "They used to do it every year before that."
The post has hosted visits by local residents since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the States, but those were invitation-only affairs, usually for community leaders, civic groups or local schoolchildren, McElroy said.
Garrison commander Col. John E. Dumoulin Jr. made the decision to open the base for the Independence Day weekend events "in the interest of being good neighbors and friends," McElroy said.
"We’re still going to maintain the same level of security here," he said. "But we feel that it’s a good time to do this."
Even with the heightened security measures adopted by the U.S. military right after the 9/11 attacks, some units in South Korea felt able to host open-house events for the public. One of those was in Daegu, where Dumoulin was garrison commander from July 2006 until May 2007.
By contrast, Camp Humphreys had been the scene of large, often violent protests in 2005 and 2006 by anti-U.S. activists who opposed the plan to expand Camp Humphreys onto nearby farmland.
The protests drew to an end after May 2006 when South Korean security forces seized control of the contested lands. The expansion is now under way.
During the July 4-5 open house, visitors may not bring pets or personal fireworks onto the post, McElroy said.
The main gate will be open to pedestrians but closed to all motorists except vendors, he said.
All other motorists will be directed to the post’s CPX gate. Parking will be available at the Black Cat Ramp, about a five-minute drive from the CPX gate. Shuttle buses will move visitors from the ramp to the festival area, which includes the main gate, Independence Park, the Alaska Mining Company restaurant and the water park.
"Everything that’s available to us will be available to our Korean friends," McElroy said.