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Holiday parades in West Michigan implement safety measures following tragedy at Wisconsin parade

Area police chiefs tell 13 ON YOUR SIDE additional security measures being added to keep unauthorized vehicles from entering parade routes.

GRAND HAVEN, Mich. — Holiday parade organizers in West Michigan say they're moving forward with plans to hold events in the wake of the Waukesha, Wisconsin parade tragedy.

Sunday afternoon the driver of a SUV sped through a parade in the Milwaukee suburb, killing five people and injuring more than 40 others.

39-year-old Darrell Brooks is expected to be charged with five counts of first-degree intentional homicide.

Preparations are being finalized for similar holiday parades on the lakeshore from Ludington this weekend to Holland next week. Parade organizers tell 13 ON YOUR SIDE they're reviewing safety plans with area police departments.

"Hard for me to imagine that happening here," Whitehall Police Chief Roger Squiers said. "And I'm sure the people in Waukesha thought the same way."

Every December, the Whitehall and Montague Police departments temporarily close streets and intersections along West Colby, Thompson and Dowling Streets for the annual White Lake Area Chamber of Commerce Christmas Parade.

Chief Squiers and chamber staff began talking this week about the existing safety plan and what could be added to prevent a driver from entering the parade route. 

"All the side streets are blocked off by volunteers with barricades or vehicles," Squiers said. "We're going to be extra vigilant and put up some things that would make it more difficult for anybody to do anything like that intentionally."

Squiers and other police chiefs tells 13 ON YOUR SIDE any new or additional safety and security measures will not be shared publicly in advanced of the parades. The chiefs hope the additional tactics to prevent unauthorized vehicles from entering parade routes go unnoticed so those in attendance don't experience any added anxiety at the events.

"We've come up with some thoughts on how we can make this a little more secure," Squiers said. "They're going to be low-profile."

Those who attend Grand Haven's Jingle Bell Parade may notice one change organizers say was made to keep those at the parade safe. The parade presented by the Chamber of Commerce of Grand Haven, Spring Lake and Ferrysburg is preventing parade participants from passing out marketing materials or throwing out candy to those in attendance.

"That was even before all this happened last weekend," Chamber of Commerce Director of Membership Vicki Ellis said. "Because the kids rush to the middle of the street, we're a nighttime parade and we're working to keep everybody on the curbs. We want to keep our community safe, this year even more so."

Below are a list of holiday parade in West Michigan:

  • Ludington
  • Holland
    • Parade of Lights from 8th Street and Columbia Avenue to the Eighth Street Market Place Nov. 30 at 6:30pm.
  • Montague/Whitehall
    • Christmas Parade starting in Whitehall and ending in downtown Montague on December 4th at 2pm.
  • Grand Haven
    • Jingle Bell Parade on December 4th at 6pm. The 30th annual parade weaves through downtown and finishes with a tree lighting in Central Park.

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