In 2001, the Mary Meachum Freedom Crossing was dedicated by the Mayor of St. Louis as Missouri’s first nationally recognized (by the National Park Service) Underground Railroad. Subsequently, an intense community process has and is still occurring to develop the site into a national tourist destination and source of cultural pride. The annual celebration of this historic event is marked by community presentations and festivities. The event culminates with the reenactment of the 1855 event portraying urban slaves that have left the City to meet on the riverbanks to seek freedom across the River. After expressing their hopes and fears through oratory and song, the actors are confronted by the sheriff and his men. Shots are fired. Some freedom seekers’ brief brush with liberty is crushed. The audience is stunned by the drama but quickly rejoice when they become part of the balloon launch symbolizing freedom. Gathering at the River’s edge, participants release hundreds of environmentally-friendly, multi-colored balloons which drift over the Mississippi towards the north.