Safety along the route
Nova Scotia tragedy on the minds of Christmas parade organizers on the Burin Peninsula
Being involved in the Kinsmen Santa Claus Parade in Marystown for much of its 50-year existence, Dan Walsh was upset to learn of the death of a little girl during festivities in Nova Scotia on Nov. 24.
“My heart come up in my throat when I heard it,” Walsh told The Southern Gazette on Tuesday, Nov. 27.
According to the RCMP, fouryear-old MaCali Cormier fell underneath a moving float while running next to it during Yarmouth’s Christmas Parade of Lights.
Walsh, chairman of the Marystown Kinsmen parade, says the chief rule they have in place is a ban on throwing candy from floats.
“We make that known to every float that’s in the parade, there’s no throwing out candy,” he said. “If you got candy, you can walk into the crowd to dispense the candy, but you can’t throw it.”
Walsh admits that rule can be hard to enforce.
“You can’t be looking at every float, when you’ve got 30 or 40 floats in the parade,” he said. “A lot of people don’t do it any more, thank God, but we used to have problems years ago.”
According to Walsh, people and groups who put floats in the parade, particularly where kids are involved, are responsible for ensuring they keep safety in mind.
Change in Burin
Burin town manager Leo Hartson, meanwhile, told The Southern Gazette a problem identified by the town’s fire department during last year’s parade was driven home with the accident in Nova Scotia.
At the behest of the town council, Hartson has contacted the Department of Transportation and Works to request there be a complete shutdown of the parade route 10 minutes prior to its start.
“Traffic would be coming along and then when they meet the parade, they’d pull off, but they were pulling off in front of the kids, so you had cars on the side of the road with the kids actually behind them so they couldn’t see the parade,” Hartson explained.
The parade route in Burin follows along Main Street from the parking lot at Bethany United Church to College of the North Atlantic. The road is maintained by the province, thus the need to contact the department.
“The fire department identified the concern of cars being so close to the kids,” Hartson said.
One of the other things the town does with safety in mind is ask the RCMP, which leads the parade, to put the floats in the centre of the roadway so that they are an equal distance from children along both sides of the street, Hartson explained.
As well, throwing treats from floats is also prohibited in Burin and a reminder is issued during the lineup for the parade.
“You’re trying to be as cautious as possible not for anything to go wrong,” Hartson said.
Members of Burin Peninsula Ground Search and Rescue hand out treats during the 2017 Christmas parade in Burin.