Changes are being made to the rules and route of the Town of Amherst’s Christmas parade.
“We are implementing these changes to help ensure the safety of all,” Police Chief Dwayne Pike, the town’s traffic authority, said. “We do not want a repeat of what happened in Yarmouth, where a young child died last year after falling beneath a float.”
As in past years, the parade will form up on Eddy Street and in the TD Bank parking lot. It will travel along Victoria Street, turn left onto Church Street, then right onto Albion Street. It will then proceed along South Albion Street, but instead of ending in the Amherst Centre Mall Parking lot, it will end in the Kent store parking lot.
“For safety reasons, we do not want the parade to go through the Robert Angus Drive-South Albion Street intersection,” Pike said.
“The smaller floats and bands will be directed to the Kent parking lot, while the larger floats will be directed along the road between Kent and the Amherst Superstore parking lot to the Walmart parking lot.”
During the parade and in the moments leading up to it, Victoria Street will be closed to traffic between Acadia Street and Lawrence Street. However, it should be noted that vehicle traffic will be allowed to move along Laplanche and Havelock streets while the parade is forming up.
“We urge people to keep this in mind,” the chief said. “Last year, we had people crossing the street without paying attention to the rules of the road, even though traffic continued to flow freely. For their safety, we remind them to follow the rules for crossing streets in the moments before the parade starts.”
Church Street, between Victoria and Albion streets, will be closed to traffic during the parade as will Albion and South Albion streets, between Church Street and Robert Angus Drive.
A section of Robert Angus Drive, between South Albion Street and the Walmart parking lot entrance, will also be closed to traffic. This is being done to allow people to cross the street safely as they make their way to the awards ceremony that is still being held in the Amherst Centre Mall.
In addition to the change in the parade route, there will be no parking allowed during the parade on Victoria Street, between Laplanche and Lawrence streets, Church Street, between Victoria and Albion streets, and on Albion Street, between Church and East Pleasant streets.
Barricades are being erected at tight intersections to ensure floats have adequate room to make turns. The barricades will be set up at the Church and Victoria street intersection, the Church and Albion street intersection and the South Albion and Kent parking lot intersection.
“We are also working to ensure there will be a five-foot safety zone around each float and that parade watchers will not be sitting or standing in the street or crossing the street while the parade is underway,” Pike said.
The chief also reminded people that throwing items from floats is prohibited.
“This rule is in place because we don’t want kids running towards moving floats,” he added.
Pike suggested that floats with generators on them should also have a fire extinguisher that is easily accessible on the float, that young parade participants should have a light or something reflective that will make them easier to see and that each float have a minimum of two adult spotters – one on each side - walking alongside the floats.
“We also want to remind folks that they expected to obey all traffic signs and signals while the parade is in progress,” the chief said. “We want the parade to be a safe and happy experience for everyone.”