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Drivers going around barriers delayed Charlottetown Christmas parade: police

Freezing temperatures didn’t deter thousands of spectators from catching a glimpse of Santa Claus in his sleigh at the 20th annual Charlottetown Christmas Parade on Saturday.
Freezing temperatures didn’t deter thousands of spectators from catching a glimpse of Santa Claus in his sleigh at the 20th annual Charlottetown Christmas Parade on Saturday.

Santa was late arriving at the Charlottetown Christmas parade because some motorists refused to obey barriers put up securing the route for the parade, say Charlottetown police.

The parade was scheduled to leave UPEI on University Avenue at 5 p.m. But it didn’t depart until roughly 5:35 p.m., which left many spectators wondering what caused the hold up.

“We have to have the confidence level that the route is safe and we’re not prepared to open the route until we’re satisfied and that’s what happened the other night,’’ Deputy Chief Brad MacConnell said Monday.

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Parents went to social media following the parade to complain about the wait, some even saying that their children got so bored they asked to leave.

City of Charlottetown tourism officer Laurel Lea said on the weekend that city police and the public works department secure the parade route and radio ahead when the route is fully secure and clear of all traffic.

MacConnell said police along the parade route lacked the confidence that things were safe to proceed because of vehicles that were on the actual parade route.

“Vehicles got on the parade route. One of the things we have to do is shut (the parade route) down and clear the route of traffic. That wasn’t able to be achieved due to a couple of factors: one being public compliance associated to the traffic devices that were preventing them from going on the road. Some vehicles were just going around them,’’ the deputy chief said.

“So, once they get on the (parade) route there’s nowhere for them to get out, so police have to deal with those. Police don’t give the go-ahead to start the parade until we’re comfortable that we have control of the route.’’

MacConnell said police understand it caused a major inconvenience to those who came out to see the parade but “safety has to be paramount in things like this’’.

Despite the delay, a majority of spectators stuck around to see the live nativity scene, a jailed Grinch, and Star Wars characters covered in Christmas lights, which were just a few of the festival sights at the parade.

MacConnell added that part of the debrief from this year’s Charlottetown parade will include a look at the tragedy that took place at a Christmas parade in Yarmouth, N.S., on the weekend in which a four-year-old girl was killed after falling under a float.

“When we see a tragedy like (the one that) happened in Yarmouth, we have to look at what lessons can be learned from that and that’s what we’ll do,’’ he said. “As more information is revealed we’ll look at potentially what lessons we need to learn from that tragedy because that is something that no city or town want to have happen because they didn’t take enough notice of the incident that happened there in Yarmouth.’’

MacConnell noted even though Santa was late on Saturday, he’ll be on time for Christmas.

dave.stewart@theguardian.pe.ca

Twitter.com/DveStewart

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