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(CBS/AP) A crowd stampeded after leaving a New Year's fireworks show early
Tuesday in Ivory Coast's main city, killing 61 people many of them children and
teenagers and injuring more than 200, rescue workers said.Thousands had gathered
at the Felix Houphouet Boigny Stadium in Abidjan's Plateau district to see the
fireworks. It was only the second New Year's Eve fireworks display since peace
returned to this West African nation after a bloody upheaval over presidential
elections put the nation on the brink of civil war and turned this city into a
battle zone.With 2013 showing greater promise, people were in the mood to
celebrate on New Year's Eve. Families brought children and they watched the
rockets burst in the nighttime sky.
But only an hour into the new year, as the crowds poured onto the Boulevard
de la Republic after the show, something caused a stampede, said Col. Issa Sako
of the fire department rescue team. How so many deaths occurred on the broad
boulevard and how the tragedy started is likely to be the subject of an
investigation.Many of the younger ones in the crowd went down, trampled
underfoot. Most of those killed were between 8 and 15 years old"The flood of
people leaving the stadium became a stampede which led to the deaths of more
than 60 and injured more than 200," Sako told Ivory Coast state TV.Desperate
parents went to the city morgue, the hospital and to the stadium to try to find
missing children. Mamadou Sanogo was searching for his 9yearold son, Sayed."I
have just seen all the bodies, but I cannot find my son," said a tearful Sanogo.
"I don't know what to do."State TV showed a woman sobbing in the back of an
ambulance; another was bent over on the side of the street, apparently in pain;
and another, barely conscious and wearing only a bra on her upper body, was
hoisted by rescuers.
There were also scenes of small children being treated in a hospital. One boy
grimaced in pain and a girl with colored braids in her hair lay under a blanket
with one hand bandaged. The death toll could rise, officials said.After the sun
came up, soldiers were patrolling the site that was littered with victims'
clothes, shoes, torn sandals and other belongings. President Alassane Ouattara
and his wife Dominique visited some of the injured in the hospital.Mrs. Ouattara
leaned over one child who was on a bed in a crowded hospital ward and tried to
console the youngster. The president pledged that the government would pay for
their treatment, his office said.The government organized the fireworks to
celebrate Ivory Coast's peace, after several months of political violence in
early 2011 following disputed elections.This is not Ivory Coast's first stadium
tragedy. In 2009, 22 people died and over 130 were injured in a stampede at a
World Cup qualifying match at the Houphouet Boigny Stadium, prompting FIFA,
soccer's global governing body, to impose a fine of tens of thousands of dollars
on Ivory Coast's soccer federation. The stadium, which officially holds 35,000,
was overcrowded at the time of the disaster.A year later, two people were killed
and 30 wounded in a stampede at a municipal stadium during a reggae concert in
Bouake, the country's secondlargest city. The concert was organized in the city,
held by rebels at the time, to promote peace and reconciliation.Ivory Coast is
the world's largest cocoa producer, growing more than 37 percent of the world's
annual crop of cocoa beans, which are used to make chocolate.
They had taken over for Harold's father, Abraham, a Lebanese immigrant who
relocated the store to Fairfield in 1928 after years in Waterville. Joseph's
still bears the word clothing in its official name but it long ago became known
as the place in central Maine to shop for sporting goods.Today, Main St. is
marked by vacant and boardedup storefronts, a sign of the times for businesses
that have been crowded out by big box stores, online competition or just decided
to relocate to shopping malls.Winship and her husband Ray were among dozens of
customers and wellwishers who turned out Saturday for what was officially billed
as a retirement party for Harold, who will turn 90 in October, and Naj, 86. It
was also a retirement for their daughter Paula, who has managed the store the
past several years with her husband Jon Eustis. Most of all, though, it was the
end of an era.
The store, actually two buildings since the Josephs bought out the adjacent
Western Auto store many years ago, will close its doors within a couple of
weeks. Longtime employee David Winkin, along with Messalonskee High School
hockey coach Mike Latendresse, will move the business to the Medical Arts
Building on Kennedy Memorial Drive In Waterville. Winkin doesn't anticipate many
changes."Generally, no," Winkin said. "We may carry a few less sneakers, but
we're going to try to keep cleats. Golf will be a big part of it, hockey,
baseball."The new store will be called Joseph's Sporting Goods and undoubtedly
be larger, brighter and perhaps a little more organized. But charm is much more
elusive and difficult to reproduce, and Joseph's had it in spades, from the
creaky wood floor to the exposed fluorescent lighting and cluttered shelves.
There was a surprise around every corner gloves here, skates there, tennis
rackets in rows, jackets, balls, bats, field hockey sticks and a whole room
devoted to golf, a passion of Harold's for years. While many people shared
coffee, donuts and memories Saturday morning, others just wandered in looking
for bargains, oblivious to the bittersweet celebration around them."We bought
our track equipment here, because it was really the only place around where you
could buy sporting goods," said Ray Wiship, a former Lawrence High School
teacher and coach. "Javelins and vaulting poles. It's unique."
Physical surroundings aside, it's the personal touch that separated Joseph's
from big box stores. The family wasn't going anywhere."I'm 65," Paula said.
"When I was born my mother put me in a crate, I'm not kidding you, padded it,
and brought me to work. I've been here all my life."Harold and Naj still work
every Monday and some Saturdays to give Jon and Paula a break. Harold wanders in
four or five days a week just to stay busy and shoot the breeze. When he doesn't
recall customers by their first names he calls them "pro," and he's still ready
to match or better a deal offered by a big box competitor. Those that couldn't
pay up front or pay at all, never went without.Paula had pages of testimonials
from former customers around the state and the country who couldn't make it
Saturday but remembered the attention and kindness they received at Joseph's. A
recently retired coach showed up midweek, Paula said, to thank Harold for his
generosity when the coach was a kid.
Two years ago, a dream became reality for John Reeves and his soccer family
as they entered the world of owning a specialty sporting goods store. As many
sporting goods stores struggled during the recession and still do afterwards,
John saw opportunity and followed his dream of opening a specialty soccer store
where he calls home in Fairfax, VA.John set up shop in Greenbriar Town Center
next to Dogfish Head Alehouse in April of 2011 and opened his doors to the local
soccer community. He saw this location as the epicenter of soccer in Fairfax,
VA. The first days seemed as typical of any other small, new business. The
shopkeeper/owner tended the shop each day and a second hand there when needed.
Customers trickled in each day as word slowly got around Fairfax. Many stumbled
upon the shop as they drove through the shopping center. Customers would come in
and browse around with many starting up conversation with John or his staff with
the words, "How long have you been here? I didn even know you were here." Each
day goes on like any other day with John working hard behind the scenes trying
to capture a larger audience of customers.
Before the height of summer in 2011, John's hard work paid off. as the
official supplier to the George Mason University Soccer Programs and Herndon
Youth Travel Soccer. on the map and solidify itself as a soccer supplier in the
Northern Virginia area. is the supplier for numerous clubs and teams including
Southwestern Youth Association and Virginia Soccer Association. The early days
consisted of two guys running a simple heat press in a crowded, hot stockroom.
Today, three heat presses, more staff and other contractors help support the
team side of the business. Many hours go into the team side of the business as
it is needed to satisfy the volume side of the business, but it has proven to be
helpful on many fronts.
Like all shops, the focus is the environment within the retail area.
Customers want to see all the new soccer cleats, balls, jerseys, etc. Customers
also want to stop by and chat about the beautiful game of soccer. The customer
base is as loyal as any other local shop that has been around for years or
decades in Fairfax. had couches and a coffeemaker, they may be as crowded as a
Starbucks each day. has the old school way of providing customer service. The
staff has tripled over the past two years and each employee offers something
unique to the shop. goes much further than just ringing up purchases. has truly
made its mark within the Northern Virginia soccer community. throughout the last
two years. will stick around for many more..