9 a.m. today |

The city of Lakeland asked residents on Facebook this afternoon if they have questions about Thursday’s Christmas Parade. Boy, do they. But mostly they have comments. And a lot of them are about the practice of placing chairs along the downtown parade route a day or two or even three early. The consensus: Outlaw it. The reasons cited most often: safety and fairness.

“People who need to do business and live downtown – many in wheelchairs and scooters (esp along Orange / Lakeview Place in particular), can’t get down the sidewalks,” wrote Terisa Glover, a co-owner of Two Hens & a Hound on South Kentucky Avenue.

Other comments:

Samantha Castro – “It should be first come first serve. You can’t even take small children to the parade anymore because all the grownups want to block their view from even enjoying the event.”

Shaun Matz – “All it takes is the wind to blow a chair in the road and then you will have an accident or a jogger or biker crashing into a chair then a lawsuit will happen.”

Four hours after the post went live, nobody had defended the chair practice, but one commenter wondered if we can all just get along: “Looking forward to a wonderful tradition! Been every year! Too bad so many people have negative comments!” wrote Danielle Moody.

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Other questions

“What happens if it rains?” Brenda Joyce Weatherholtz wondered. (Yes, she really does have Weather in her name.)

A city spokesperson responded: “The Christmas parade goes on rain or shine. It has only be cancelled once over the history of the event. If something were to change or be cancelled, we will post a notice here on our page.”

“Why is is the parade always on a school night, Thursday, instead of Friday or Saturday?” Mark Testerman asked.

An answer came from Becky Abel, formerly of the Downtown Development Authority: “In the beginning, little Lakeland could not get the good commercial floats from outside entities on the weekends because bigger cities or theme parks took priority. We could get the good floats and maybe bands, etc. if we opted for a week night. That may no longer be relevant now.”

For more, check out the Facebook post and replies:

Source: Facebook: City of Lakeland

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Barry Friedman founded in 2015 as the culmination of a career in print and digital journalism. Since 1982, he has used the tools of reporting, editing and content curation to help people in Lakeland understand their community better.

5 replies on “Backlash Builds Against Placeholder Parade Chairs”

  1. I am a parent of a small child..and I place my chairs on the parade route the night before the parade, and primarily it is because I want him to be able to sit and enjoy it without being pushed around. People are just mad because someone beat them to it. I do agree with limiting chairs infront of businesses and perhaps no more than the day before.

  2. Actually Katrina I’m not mad because someone beat me to placing chairs. If you’ll read my comments I’m mad because these people are blocking the children from enjoying the parade with the chairs and what about people in wheelchairs and scooters??? They can’t even get down the sidewalks because of all the chairs. The city should put it’s own chairs out in designated areas for people with disabilities. If you don’t have a disability then no chair. Everyone wants to be able to enjoy the parade and you can’t do so with thousands of chairs everywhere. It makes it much harder to get around when you have people with chairs everywhere. Not to mention the fact that wind could blow chairs into oncoming cars when they’re placed days before the parade and it’s just such an eyesore to beautiful downtown Lakeland.

  3. There’s other dangers to early placed chairs as well. Sidewalks are made for walking not for chairs. Your making people ride their bikes in the streets or walk in the streets because the sidewalks are full of chairs but please by all means let’s put people’s safety to the back burner just so you can have the satisfaction of early chair placement.

  4. Taking 10mins of my time to go the night before or morning of to place chairs for myself and children is way more convenient then having to sit out and hold spots hours before, meanwhile keeping in mind that would cause many to miss work.
    Be mindful and keep an open walkway and all should be good.
    Why does everything have to piss everybody off?

  5. I’m not really an advocate for placing chairs days before the event, but I don’t see how it prevents people from watching the parade. If the 1st row of people are sitting down in chairs, it seems it would leave a better view for people and children standing behind those chairs. Anyway I still think people should just bring chairs the day of the event, it’s getting a little rediculuos and pedestrian safety is being compromised. I understand it’s inconvenient not to have to go to the parade early, but to choose to inconvenience others so your not inconvenienced is the entitlement that so much of this country is intoxicated with. It’s the reason why people wait in line for 24 hours at Best Buy, and then fight eachother over the slightly discounted merchandise. Me my mine!!!

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