NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – As the holiday season gets underway, so do the holiday parades. After the deadly parade incident in Wisconsin, we’re hearing from law enforcement in Middle Tennessee about how they work to keep those events safe.
News 2 talked with the police chiefs in Portland and La Vergne. Both said it’s an all-hands-on-deck approach when it comes to these parades with extra police officers working the event to ensure public safety. These officers are there to monitor the crowd and to handle traffic as they shut down busy thoroughfares for floats and marching bands.
La Vergne’s Parade of Lights is coming up on Dec. 11. Chief Chip Davis said one of the biggest challenges is trying to keep traffic as normal as possible.
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“Given the detours that we have to have in place, we want to be considerate of other people who are not participating in a parade or, you know, those who may not know the area well,” Davis said. “So we try to put measures in place to have the tools for them set up to where they can get around safely without disrupting what’s going on on the parade route.”
The City of Portland welcomes thousands for the annual Strawberry Festival and parade, and the Portland Christmas Festival & Parade happens on Dec. 4.
Portland Police Chief Jason Williams said they also work to make sure the areas around the parades are blocked off and properly manned by police officers.
“We don’t just block a road, we try to have somebody at that intersection that can help somebody find an alternate route. Because I think a lot of times, that’s where the frustration comes from, somebody pulls up in the roadblock, and they don’t know where to go, because they’re not from there,” Williams said. “We try to man so that there is somebody especially at your major intersections in your major places where lots of out-of-town traffic could be coming through.”
The Smith County Rescue Squad shared on social media that when their members worked traffic at previous parades, they’ve been yelled at and cursed at by drivers who were frustrated. Members have had to put their hands on the hoods of cars to keep them from going onto the parade route.
“Anytime we have a festival or a parade, we usually always try to publicize that well in advance so that people can be aware of it. But obviously, that doesn’t always reach everyone so the frustration part is understandable,” said Chief Davis. “One of the things we try to do is we don’t just block a road, we try to have somebody at that intersection that can help somebody find an alternate route.”
They want residents to be reassured that their agencies do a lot of planning to keep these events safe.
“Especially coming out of the time we’re starting to come out of now with just being isolated from each other and not be able to have these kinds of events, I think they’re probably more important now than they ever were,” Chief Williams said. “I just think we got to be super vigilant about just paying attention to surroundings and taking the preparations you can take to keep people safe.”
Several parades are planned for the first weekend in December including Franklin, Clarksville, Murfreesboro, Smyrna, Columbia and Hendersonville.