One Spark reassures security is priority

Event leaders promise security plan is in place, constantly being reviewed

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - One Spark is a large event happening in downtown Jacksonville this week, and organizers are assuring everyone it has a security plan in place and that they will continue to review it.

One Spark kicks off Wednesday. It's a large crowd-funding festival featuring hundreds of innovators.

The One Spark team issued a statement Monday night in response to what happened in Boston.

The statement says it's been coordinating with the city of Jacksonville, the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office and Jacksonville Fire-Rescue for months and will continue to do so through the festival.

"We've got creators coming in from all over the globe and the enthusiasm that they've poured into this project, they are One Spark," Director of Field Operations Joe Sampson said.

It's been months and months in the making, and now the long-awaited One Spark week is here. In light of what happened in Boston, organizers said this about its security plans:

"We will closely follow the security plan developed by the team and have every confidence in the ability of all involved to ensure security of our creators, our volunteers and our event attendees."

JFRD Fire Chief Marty Senterfitt says fire personnel and police officers have been training for six weeks to protect the public at One Spark downtown. He says officials have no reason to believe that Jacksonville is a terrorist target, but they recognize it could happen anywhere.

"I believe there is a focus this week on what could happen," Senterfitt said. "And so, with that, that is why we are careful about protecting how we respond in our plans, because we understand that a bomber may want to put a device in a location that can actually take out the first responders."

So the questions remain: Are you prepared? Are you aware of your surroundings? Do you regularly look for things that could be considered suspicious and know how to report them?

Police say the public will play an even more critical role in helping to keep everyone safe. They say remaining alert and aware in large groups is something everyone should become accustomed to, because even the smallest tip or phone call to something that's just not right could end up saving someone's life.

"Look, I would tell the public come down, have a good time, but be vigilant, look around," Sheriff John Rutherford said. "If you see something that looks out of place, call the police, let us check it out. Don't be bashful about calling us. We need those eyes and ears out there. If you see something that looks suspicious, call us, and not just at events, but anywhere out in the community. But these attacks can come from anywhere."

Meanwhile, enthusiasm for the One Spark festival remains high.

"One Spark is going to be such an exciting event with tens of thousands of people coming downtown," creator of One Spark, Dr. Wayne Wood said. "My exhibit, vote for me by the way, is one of those that actually kind of summarized the whole spirit of One Spark in that people who come together and make Jacksonville exciting should be looked at, celebrated and paid attention to."

Wayne Wood is one of 480 innovators show casing an idea at One Spark.

With the help of some friends, the arts agitator is setting up his exhibit, called Creative Community, at the Jacksonville Library.

They're hanging portraits of people who have made an impact on Jacksonville's creative community.

That's just one example and at the back of the library is another -- the Jacksonville Zoo assembles its new tiger exhibit, where people will be able to walk through this sculpture and get a feel for the way tigers at the zoo will feel in their new exhibit opening next March.

"This has never been done before for big cats and we think it's going to give them their natural behaviors which is to patrol large area territories," director of the Horticulture and Facilities at the Jacksonville Zoo Bob Chabot said.

One Spark opens at 3 p.m. Wednesday and goes through Sunday.

Channel 4 will also be broadcasting live from the kickoff Wednesday night, so tune in to the primetime special at 8 p.m.

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