Bowe Bergdahl’s Hometown, Hailey, Idaho, Cancels Welcome-Home Celebration

Flags and balloons marking the release from captivity of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl adorn the sidewalk outside a shop in the soldier's hometown of Hailey, Idaho, on Wednesday. Organizers canceled a planned welcome back celebration, citing concerns crowds could overwhelm the small town. (Photo: Brian Skoloff, AP)
Flags and balloons marking the release from captivity of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl adorn the sidewalk outside a shop in the soldier’s hometown of Hailey, Idaho, on Wednesday. Organizers canceled a planned welcome back celebration, citing concerns crowds could overwhelm the small town. (Photo: Brian Skoloff, AP)

Organizers called off a welcome-home celebration for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, released after nearly five years of captivity in Afghanistan, saying Wednesday that expected crowds threatened to overwhelm his small hometown of Hailey, Idaho.

“In the interest of public safety, the event will be canceled,” a statement released by the event’s organizers said, the Idaho Statesman reported. “Hailey, a town of 8,000, does not have the infrastructure to support an event of the size this could become.”

Hailey city administrator Heather Dawson confirmed town officials called off the June 28 rally at the request of organizers, Reuters reported. The town “will be unable to safely manage the number of people expected,” she said.

Backlash to the Obama administration’s deal trading five Taliban prisoners for Bergdahl, who left his post in Southern Afghanistan in 2009, has grown since the soldier’s release Saturday.

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SOURCE: William M. Welch
USA TODAY

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