It was more than just the fun rides, food and live music that Marcus Blackwell enjoyed about the Heritage Festival in Anniston Saturday.
It was the feeling of safety.
"I'm not worried about my kids getting shot," Blackwell said as he and his three children waited to ride a merry-go-round. "When I was growing up they used to have things like this out here all the time ... but things started getting out of hand and they had to stop ... I'm glad they're bringing it back."
Blackwell, of Anniston, was one of hundreds of people who turned out for the city's second annual Heritage Festival in Zinn Park. Children had their pick of cooling off in the park's recently installed splash pad, jumping in a bouncy house, tumbling down an inflatable slide or even riding a train around the park. Meanwhile, adults were entertained with a variety of live music throughout the day and into the evening.
"It's good that they're bringing in old-school bands to come and perform," Blackwell said. "There's something here for everyone."
Steven Folks, director of the Anniston Parks and Recreation Department, which organized the event, said the Heritage Festival is all about bringing the community together.
"We wanted it to be all inclusive," Folks said. "It doesn't matter if you're black or white or Hispanic, we want to make you feel welcome."
Folks said he was pleased with the turnout Saturday, adding that his department definitely plans to organize another festival next year.
"The crowds are getting bigger," Folks said.
Linda Mayall of Anniston was with her daughter and granddaughter at the festival.
"I think it's great — everybody I've seen here has smiles on their faces," Mayall said of the festival.
Mayall said she was also impressed with the recent upgrades to Zinn Park, including the splash pad and the new playground and workout equipment.
"I think the community is going to start enjoying the park more," Mayall said as her granddaughter ran in and out of the splash pad. "They've done a lot of improvements."
Lorraine Watson of Anniston watched as her two grandchildren enjoyed the bouncy house.
"So far I like it and my grandkids certainly seem to like it," Watson said right before the two kids fell on top of each other in a fit of laughter. "I've already had them on the train and they did the merry-go-round."
Watson said she also liked how safe the festival felt.
"It's right next to the police station and I noticed some police patrolling ... it just feels safe," Watson said. "I think it's a good outing for kids and something you can bring your family to and not worry about a hassle."
Watson said that once her grandchildren were exhausted from all the fun, she would take them home but planned to return later in the evening.
"I want to see what all these concerts are about," she said.
Staff writer Patrick McCreless: 256-235-3561. On Twitter @PMcCreless_Star.