ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. — Following the tragedy at the Christmas Parade in Waukesha, Wisconsin, we’re taking a closer look at the safeguards that will be in place at one of the biggest parades here locally.
The 66th annual Christmas Parade in St. Augustine is happening next Saturday, Dec. 4 at 9 a.m. That’s fewer than two weeks away.
The city is expecting about 10,000 parade attendees and 3,000 parade participants.
“To me, it’s that time of year, just in good spirits, people visiting family, enjoying themselves,” said Officer Dee Brown, who has been involved in the parade for the past seven years.
It’s why the images out of Waukesha, Wisconsin, where celebration turned to tragedy after a SUV plowed into a Christmas parade, were especially devastating to him.
“People are there having fun and enjoying the parade,” he pointed out. “So, when something like that happens, it’s just a sad situation all around.”
But he wants to reassure both participants and attendees that officers will be on high alert.
“As a law enforcement officer, you’re always on heightened alert on anything,” Brown emphasized. “Around Christmas time, big events, you definitely have a different sense of awareness of what’s going on and just looking at safety precautions.”
“Luckily for St. Augustine, it’s tough to find parking and maneuver around the city anyways,” Brown said.
Plus, officers are used to the parade route, which starts by the Mission Nombre de Dios. “It hasn’t changed in seven years,” he said. “Water barricades, we’ve got vehicle barricades that block roads, officers are in place.”
Officer Brown showed Action News Jax where the crowds will be, and the cars won’t.
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From Avenita Menendez, the parade will be going down Cathedral Place and all those cars that you typically see parallel parked are going to be gone. No cars will be allowed in or out, with the very few exceptions of the people who work there, as the parade makes its way down all the way to Cordova Street.
Brown recommends getting there extra early to get a spot. “Walk around and get breakfast, or lunch,” he said. “You can make it an all-day event versus coming here for five minutes to enjoy the parade and now you’re stuck.”
But if you can work around that, the fun is sure to follow.
“Just come out,” he encourages everyone. “Have a good time, and be ready to have fun. Be in the Christmas spirit.”
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