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.
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.
“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: