We have just celebrated the 240th anniversary of our independence and a wonderful weekend it was. Weather-wise this one must rank high in the cooler times with a nice breeze. We all know it takes a lot of volunteers and time to put something like this together and for that I say thank you.
Last year was a hot one and the first time the parade route was reversed starting at the City Park and ending at Tarleton. We were told it was to relieve the congestion and for safety and that we want for all of those participating.
The entering and lineup was very confusing and it was late starting because of a disabled vehicle. My concern was congestion in the park and the parade route going that direction had us going uphill. The marchers were worn out because of it and several of the vintage vehicles had mechanical issues and mine was one of them.
The Empire-Tribune published an article on the 2015 parade and it was all about how pleased the staff and police were and applauding how great it went. During and after the parade I and others talked to several of the staff and the officers that worked the event and none of them were positive in their responses.
This year I went to the park office to sign up for the parade and was told again it was reversed because of safety considerations. There is one change that was made I totally support which is the pre-register of participants. That way they staff will have a better idea on how many will be there.
While getting into the lineup on this 4th it was a major hassle again. The parade was supposed to start at 9 but another vehicle was disabled so we were late again in moving out. While sitting there waiting to move I noticed something rather disturbing. We were approximately in the middle of the lineup in the park.
If there was an emergency there would be minimal access getting in or out. In my career as an engineer I was on several boards for setting up “Emergency Response and Access” in factories. The City Park is a disaster waiting to happen. In the event of injury, fire or illness; the participants are bottled up and trapped.
I would like to propose keeping the pre-register but going back to the Tarleton start route. That way the lineups are simpler and if a vehicle is disabled it can be driven around.
The parade ending can still be at the city park but block off the older area near the recreation hall and pavilion to Graham St. Then the newer area by 377 can be assigned for the dropping off of the riders and the floats as the parade disbands.
Again I do appreciate the efforts of all those involved and hope my suggested will be considered.
C. Richard Bragg,