UPDATE: 8/20/2013 4:26 PM
"We had no incidents. We had no people injured and no threats that presented themselves," says Parkersburg Police Sergeant Greg Collins.
After weeks of prep work homecoming came and went without any security threats. The success is due in part to a new philosophy set in place by Parkersburg Police Chief Joe Martin.
"The way we went about this mission was policing in modern times. Which was preparing for every possible threat, from every possible angle. Try to have enough presence to keep it from happening and in the unfortunate event that it does happen, have a plan to deal with it," says Sgt. Collins.
You probably saw them doing just that; lining the race and parade routes and checking anything that raised concern.
"We worked together as a unit. We were up and down the streets. We were at the start and finish line. During the parade we made our way north and then south and our job was to actively seek out anything suspicious or something that could be a threat. And that's something that you didn't see in the past," adds Sgt. Collins.
But it's something you'll continue to see in the future. More training is already set in place to utilize these new procedures in future missions.
"It's a lot of responsibility on policing now. It's not the same as it used to be and we've done a good job ushering in that technology and way of thinking to protect the valley," says Sgt. Collins.
UPDATE: 8-18-13 8:07 PM
Several cub scouts from across the valley were racing down the Market Street hill in downtown Parkersburg.
It's all part of their Soap Box Derby.
"The boys build their cars, they can use on our rules whatever they want as long as they're not using American Soapbox Derby wheels because on our tracks, they're not safe for us. Also whatever they make, the ones that they fill in the guidelines of the race, then they can race it," says Cub Scout Soapbox Derby Chairman, Larry Lemon.
The cub scouts were very excited to race their cars down the hill despite doing so in the rain.
Just ask Cameron Reedy.
"I've done this for two years and it's always been fun to do something that you don't get to do often," added Reedy.
The racers didn't all have an easy time getting to the finish line.
"It was hard steering and getting on the ramp, it was kind of weird because you're tilted and you're normally on flat land," Reedy said.
"Fun, even though I ran into a couple of curves but I raced. It was fun," says Conner Scorey.
Even some adults got in on the action.
"Oh it was fun, exciting. We're just out here to show the kids that you're never too old to have a good time and scouting is one way to do that. These kids have a lot of fun," added Jeff Mahurin.
Though the Soapbox Derby was a competition, the cub scouts and their parents didn't see it that way.
"It teaches them a lot about good sportsmanship and the fact it is not about winning all the time and cheering on your buddies and fellow cub scouts and just really have a good time," replied Philip Newbanks.
The Cub Scout Soap Box Derby has been going on since 2004.
There was also an open class division for non-cub scouts during the race.
UPDATE: 8-17-13 8:31 PM
And the celebrations continue in downtown Parkersburg Saturday with the 31st annual Homecoming Parade.
This year's theme was "Fun In the Sun."
Hundreds of kids and parents lined up and down Market Street to see just what the floats had in store.
And what's a parade without all the candy kids can get their hands on?
This huge celebration begs the question, what's your favorite part?
Here's what some of the younger parade goers had to say.
"Probably a lot of floats and balloons," says Aaliyah Enoch.
"Fire trucks and people throwing candy because I was there last year and that's what they did last year," added Darrion Allensworth.
Superman, Parkersburg South Marching Band and members of the News and Sales Teams from WTAP were among those participating in the parade.
The floats were judged according to this year's theme.
UPDATE: 8-17-13 8:26 PM
Saturday afternoon local talent show off their natural abilities at The News Center-Parkersburg Homecoming Talent Show.
Musicians of all ages took the main stage to compete and entertain.
They were all judge by some of our very own on-air personalities here at WTAP.
The winners of the divisions included Kendall Ferrebee from the kids category, Sienna Stocky from the teens and Alec Bryant from the adults.
"One of the guys that pulled me in was a friend of mine named Cody and he used to take me to aside, he rapped with me at the church camp I went to. I thought, man I wanna do this myself just like the bible says make a joyful noise to the Lord all ye nations, I don't see why that should be rap," says Bryant.
"The first time I was on stage I was four-years-old with my dad, I don't remember, I seen pictures of it," added Stocky.
Our very own Danielle Staub, Brooke Thibodaux and Roger Sheppard were there representing the station.
Congratulations to all the performers and winners.
UPDATE: 8-16-13 8:25 PM
Thousands of runners and walkers made their way to the finish line at the Parkersburg News and Sentinel Half Marathon.
And it's all made possible by a group of dedicated volunteers.
"Well, this is our tenth year volunteering here stretching and massaging the runners," says First Settlement Physical Therapy Owner and Physical Therapist, Simon Hargus.
"The finish line area, people has been there for years and years, the people blocked the streets, you know keep coming back time after time and they're the main nucleus of the whole race," added Race Director, Chip Laoman.
After reaching the finish line, the volunteers would give them a medal and some healthy snacks.
The participants then got in line at the massaging tent to get a much needed massage and stretch after going a grueling 13 point one miles.
"This has been a great opportunity for the community. We have the ability to take care of the two milers as well as the half marathoners. So we're able to provide massages to them to help with their soreness afterwards, also provide some flexibility and stretching," replied First Settlement Physical Therapy Athletic Trainer and Physical Therapist, Kim Smith.
"To be a part of a great event like this is a great accomplishment for them and they can wear their volunteer shirt. They can come out and watch the elite runners run, watch their friends run, there might be some family members, it's quite an accomplishment for them," Laoman said.
Tami Williams who happened to run in the half marathon is thrilled to get help from volunteers after the race.
"You're really get a sense of community you know it's nice, everybody comes together, teamwork and takes care of each other. It's nice to see here," says Williams.
The volunteers are more than happy to be a big help in keeping the runners in a much healthier state.
"It's completely rewarding that's why we don't have any problem getting staff here you know they're very willing to jump in because the runners has a positive experience with it but just being part of the community is really what we're all about," added Hargus.
More than 200 race participants use the massage tent as a resource after the course.
UPDATE: 8-16-13 9:36 PM
One of the homecoming headliners is Jason Michael Carroll. He took the stage just after eight Friday night..
The Houston, Texas native drew hundreds of people as they got to see him perform numerous single hits.
It's all part of his nationwide concert tour.
His newest single, "Close Enough" is becoming a big hit especially towards his adoring fans.
The song is his first new single in two years.
"Close enough is one of those songs you know we've been writing like crazy for the last year trying to get some things going for our new album and the reception so far has been amazing with the fans, the radio's helping us out with it, got a lot of friends there and it's exciting to put new music out," says Carroll.
Carroll is one of many singers that will that will perform on the Suddenlink stage over the weekend.
UPDATE: 8-16-13 7:43 PM
Friday marked the opening day of the 31st annual Parkersburg Homecoming Festival downtown.
People gathered downtown to listen to familiar faces from across the valley on the start of this event.
Several people who played a major part in putting together the homecoming festivities were recognized on stage.
Winners of the Belpre and Parkersburg pageants also made an appearance.
And the traditional torch made its way to the opening ceremonies as Parkersburg Mayor Bob Newell, Homecoming President, Randall Roberts and many others help light it up.
"It means a kickoff to a great weekend of entertainment, rides and games, lots of good food, the entertainment on both ends of our event," says Roberts.
The homecoming festival so far drew hundreds of people from across the valley as they got to enjoy carnival rides, food and great entertainment.
Marietta Mayor, Joe Matthews and Belpre Mayor, Michael Lorentz, were among the other special guests in attendance at the opening ceremony.
UPDATE: 08/16/2013 6:50 PM
"One thing that's going to be a little bit different, first and foremost, there's going to be in excess of 80 law enforcement officers between the half marathon and the parade that follows," says Parkersburg Police Sergeant Greg Collins.
In the air and on the ground. Authorities will be out in force to insure a safe homecoming weekend.
While that's always been a priority, this year they're utilizing new techniques to counteract modern threats.
"That's one thing Chief Martin has done. He's taken a step back and noted that we need to make a change in how we conduct security for these types of events," says Sgt. Collins.
One change: all trash cans and mailboxes have been removed from Market Street.
Agents are on the look out for large bags and coolers, anything that looks suspicious.
"Our whole goal is to not be seen any more than normal but the things that we are doing behind the scenes, the things we're looking for during the events are very modern and we just want people to have a good time. It's our responsibility to protect people and that's exactly what we're going to do here," says Sgt. Collins.
The Mobile Command Center is a hub for agents working the weekend, but also provides immediate access to authorities.
While the increased security is important police still have to answer the normal work calls.
"That's part of our big work load this week. We still have a city to protect, and reports to take, and crimes to address. We have a normal complement of officers out working those things, throughout this whole deal. Everything else is officers coming in and working off duty," Sgt. Collins.
Police say the weekend is about cooperation between agencies, with drivers, and homecoming patrons.
Rides, concession stands and live entertainment are invading downtown Parkersburg this weekend. It's the 31st annual Homecoming Festival.
Many local vendors made their way on Second Street setting up for the traditional festival which starts Friday.
People can expect some outstanding entertainment as various artists like Jason Michael Carroll and America will step on stage.
The kids will have a field day getting on numerous rides and other fun activities.
And whats a homecoming festival without seeing the fireworks from Fort Boreman Hill.
"It's great for Parkersburg and the whole surrounding community. We get calls from all over the eastern United States people's gonna come here. Some of them had lived here in the past and some of them just want to come and our entertainment has probably been the biggest draw to get them in here," says Parkersburg Homecoming Festival President, Randall Roberts.
The Parkersburg Homecoming Festival runs from Friday through Sunday that includes the Parkersburg News and Sentinel Half Marathon on Saturday Morning.
For a complete list of events taking place at this year's homecoming festival, visit http://www.parkersburg-homecoming.com/.