Bergdahl's Hometown Cancels Celebration

Hailey, Idaho, says it's too small to host

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted Jun 4, 2014 6:03 PM CDT

(Newser) – When Bowe Bergdahl first got released, people back home in Hailey, Idaho, promised the "biggest welcome-home party the country has ever seen." But now the party's off, reports the Idaho Statesman. In its explanation, the tiny city makes no mention of the controversy swirling around Bergdahl—whether he did or didn't desert his base. Instead, it blames the huge national interest in the party, which had been scheduled for June 28. "In the interest of public safety, the event will be cancelled," says the city. "Hailey, a town of 8,000, does not have the infrastructure to support an event of the size this could become."

Organizers had been under mounting pressure to call it off, especially as it became clear that protesters as well as supporters would be descending on Hailey. One co-organizer told Reuters earlier that the event wasn't intended to celebrate Bergdahl as a hero, only to rejoice in his release. "People in Hailey have been aware for some time that there were questions about how Bowe came to be captured, and that there was a chance that Bowe could be in trouble when he came home," said Stefanie O'Neill.

A sign celebrating the release of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl stands on a street in the soldier's hometown of Hailey, Idaho, Wednesday.
A sign celebrating the release of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl stands on a street in the soldier's hometown of Hailey, Idaho, Wednesday.   (AP Photo/Brian Skoloff)
Flags and balloons marking the release of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl outside a shop in Hailey, Idaho.
Flags and balloons marking the release of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl outside a shop in Hailey, Idaho.   (AP Photo/Brian Skoloff)
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