Lake Ozark officials have, once again, refused to consider an exception to the open container law. The most recent request was to allow open containers during a meet and greet for the Lake of the Ozarks Shootout.
Although the board said no, the Lake Shootout Meet and Greet will be held on the Strip in Lake Ozark in August.
The Lake Ozark Board of Aldermen Tuesday night once again put its foot down and said no to the request to lift the open container ban for the annual Shootout on The Strip Meet and Greet night during the Shootout. Jeff Carroll, representing the Shootout Committee, outlined plans for the Aug. 22 event.
After a 15-minute discussion, the board voted 4-2 to allow the event and to allow the use of Rt. 242 with MoDOT permission, but not suspend the open container law. Voting in favor of the motion were Larry Buschjost, Don Langley, Judy Neels and Tony Otto. Voting against the motion were Jeff Van Donsel and Todd Painter.
The Meet and Greet has been hugely successful in recent years, and gives area residents and visitors a chance to get up close and personal with not only the race boats but also the drivers and support team. Carroll estimated as many as 3,000 people would turn out.
Carroll proposed that boats be lined up in the north lane of Rt. 242 for the Parade of Boats, and then turn north on Bagnell Dam Blvd. towards the Strip. The boats will be lined up for display in the center lane of the Strip until about 11 p.m.
He also asked the board to suspend the open container law from 5:30 to 11 p.m. from School Road across from Christ the King Lutheran Church to Bagnell Dam.
While there was some resistance to using Rt. 242 because of potential traffic congestion, the open container request drew the most response.
“We have an open container law,” alderman Larry Buschjost said, “and I will fight for it until I can fight no longer.”
He even suggested putting the issue to a vote of Lake Ozark residents.
“We’re no longer going to modify our ordinances for one individual or one group,” he said emphatically. “Our ordinances were drafted for all of the people.”
Carroll said the Meet and Greet is a family event, and shared an anecdote where he took a 98-year-old woman down the street in a golf cart one year so she could see the boats.
“It’s not a Wild West party,” he said. “This is done all over the country.”
Carroll said many businessmen support lifting the ban. In his letter of application, Carroll said, “we feel that lifting the open container ban will take pressure off the (police) officers and hopefully increase sales among the bars and restaurants along the Strip.”
Page 2 of 2 - Buschjost was not deterred by Carroll’s reasoning.
“This (Meet and Greet) has been here for two years, and we didn’t have to lift the ban before and it worked fine. So why this year?” he asked.
Issues of security were discussed along with problems associated with individuals taking coolers into the designated area. Carroll said in his Special Event application and at the meeting that a security team used during the Shootout would be present to help prevent abuse of the rules.
More than one alderman noted that the city has worked hard to change its image in recent years to a more family friendly community.
City Administrator Dave Van Dee said he agreed about the city’s image.
“This group (board of aldermen) has worked hard to change the image of the community,” he said. “There are plenty of opportunities to drink on the Strip already.”