Police, event organizers discuss safety in light of parade crashes

Police, event organizers discuss safety in light of parade crashes

PRATTVILLE, AL (WSFA) - Mardi Gras is all about letting the good times roll, but officials in Alabama say we are not exempt from the startling incidents we've seen this Mardi Gras season, prompting a discussion on parade safety.

"In light of the events that happened in New Orleans and Gulf Shores, I'm sure that will be a topic of discussion," said Captain David Fowler, Prattville Police Department.

Mardi Gras celebrations in central Alabama have come and gone and already officials are focusing on safety precautions for next year.

"You don't want to think about that worst case scenario but we're prepared on how we're going to react if something like that happens," said Fowler.

Prattville PD lines up police officers at major intersections along their parade route. Fowler estimates that 5,000 to 7,500 people attended this year's Mardi Gras parade.

"We're looking to maybe run people alongside the floats and maybe hand out candy instead of throwing it that way we can eliminate the kids getting close up to the trailers," said Fowler.

Children running into the street is also a top concern for the Order of Cimarron in Wetumpka, prompting parade officials to discuss a change to the route.

"We've talked about changing the route from coming off the bridge and going down South Main to more what Christmas on the Coosa does. This year was our largest parade, we had 6,500 people at least," said Wetumpka Mardi Gras Parade Chair Griffin Pritchard.

Pritchard says usually, parade-goers pack the streets two to three deep in Wetumpka and he hopes a new route will thin out the crowd.

Pritchard says recent events in New Orleans and Gulf Shores made adding a block to the route a top priority.

"Even before this happened, we were trying to make it safer for the people of Wetumpka to be a part of what we do," said Pritchard.

Prattville Police also discussing borrowing metal barricades from other municipalities; Prattville currently has 30, 100-foot metal barriers. Fowler explains each barrier costs around $100 and to line the parade route it would cost $132,000.

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