No one thinks -- or at least no one should think -- that most people who take part in the annual Bessie Smith Strut on M.L. King Boulevard have violence on their minds. While the event, essentially a big street party, may be raucous for some tastes, most of those who join in simply want to enjoy the Strut.
But Mayor Ron Littlefield and local authorities don't have the luxury of crossing their fingers and hoping all goes well. They have had to confront the unhappy reality that a relatively small number of miscreants can cause mayhem at or near such events.
We recall a deadly 2003 shooting offsite after the Strut, for instance, and Littlefield is justifiably concerned about more recent instances of serious violence, such as the shootings of nine people near a club on Market Street in 2011.
Given that environment, mixing large crowds, alcohol and easy access to the Strut could be inviting trouble.
And so, taking those factors into account, Littlefield recommended a change of venue from M.L. King -- where access has been difficult to control -- unless certain conditions were met to keep the Strut at its current location.
That generated some understandable objections from participants, nearby merchants and others who liked the tradition the Strut represented as well as the revenue it produced.
Now, happily, it appears that conditions for boosting security at the Strut have been met and that the Strut, a Monday fixture of the city's annual Riverbend Festival, will go on as it has for more than three decades.
The Bessie Smith Cultural Center apparently will be able to obtain liability insurance for the event, thanks to the generosity of an anonymous donor who will pick up the tab. Fencing that will limit access points also will be provided for the June 11 gathering.
That offers some timely certainty about an event whose future seemed markedly uncertain in recent days.
But we do acknowledge that the Strut will not be exactly the same as it was in years past.
It arguably can't be helped, given the security concerns, that fencing and controlled access will be imposed. And unlike in past years, admission will be charged.
But it would be naive to pretend that those changes will do nothing to alter the freewheeling tone of the Strut. Yes, safety is likely to be enhanced, and that plainly is a legitimate goal. But we suspect that at least a bit of the spontaneity and lighthearted fun of the event will be sacrificed in the pursuit of that sensible goal.
Still, it appears that the best option has been chosen from among a series of not-quite-ideal ones. While there should be no desire to clamp down on the legitimate enjoyment of the Strut by those who attend, public safety is paramount.
Will fencing, limited access and an admission fee guarantee that no violence will take place at or near the Strut in June? Of course not. There are no absolute guarantees of safety and security anywhere on Earth.
But it is reasonable to think that the planned measures will reduce the likelihood of violence. And although arguments that those steps may affect the nature of the Strut itself have some merit, the decision to err on the side of caution clearly is defensible.