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Parades are a fun family excursion, but you definitely need to take precautions. No matter where you live, you probably have parades throughout the year celebrating a host of events. There are Christmas parades, St. Patrick's Day and Easter parades, just to name a few. When attending parades, the Heart of America Metro Fire Chiefs Council suggests a few things to keep in mind to make the event safe and enjoyable for the entire family:
Plan to Get There Early
This is pretty much a basic rule. Waiting until the last minute will almost certainly get you a spot near the back of the crowd behind fathers lifting their children onto their shoulders.
The best way to gauge what time you need to get to your spot is to take a walk down the parade route two hours before the parade. Most people want the right spot, so if you see people beginning to stake out their spots, it's best you take claim to your own. Once a few begin taking seats, others will follow suit quickly, so scope out your spot quickly and claim it.
Avoid the "Bad Spots"
There are simply some spots you're going to want to avoid. Avoid sitting near the corner of any sidewalks as this is where they usually place parade walk-throughs. Another spot to avoid is directly in front of the door of any shops or restaurants. No matter where you sit, you're going to have people step over you, but there is always much more traffic just in front of the doors.
It may be too much to ask for your children to remain still and calm until the parade starts. There are several ways to insure your child isn't too taxed by having to sit around too long. If you're traveling with two or more adults, one adult can watch your spot while another adult takes the kids for a short walk or to a nearby shop. Bring along coloring books and healthy snacks. This can help kids channel their energy into something constructive until time for the parade arrives.
You probably don't want to think about your child getting away from you but it happens. The police department will usually have a van, trailer or other plainly marked location where you can retrieve your lost child. If you don't see one, look for an officer and inquire what you should do if you lose your child. For older kids, agree on a pre-designated meeting spot in case you get separated.
If you are attending parades at night, make sure you park in a safe, well-lit area, near the parade route.
Make sure you keep your kids behind the barricades on the parade routes; they are there for a purpose, the safety of parade-goers.
Many parades do not allow animals, so check first before bringing Fido along.
For cold weather parades, dress in layers; the temperature can change dramatically.
The main thing to remember when you attend a parade is to be safe, have fun and enjoy all the colorful floats, marching bands and performers.
Floyd Peoples, Chief Fire Marshal, Kansas City, Mo., Fire Department, 816-784-9100
Heart of America Metro Fire Chiefs Council, 9550 W. 95th St., Overland Park, Kan. 66212