Safety measures in place for Christmas parades across the two state

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EVANS, Ga. (WJBF) – Law enforcement agencies and organizers of local Christmas parades share plans to ensure people remain safe during the annual display of holiday cheer.

NewsChannel 6 reached out to these entities following the tragic incident at a Christmas parade in Wisconsin, which left five people dead.

In Columbia County, the parade will once again stay on the streets surrounding Evans Towne Center Park and off of major state roads, such as Washington Road and Belair Road. The sheriff’s office said this helps in keeping people safe.

“Not here. Don’t come to Columbia County,” said Major Sharif Chochol, Columbia County Sheriff’s Office.

Anyone planning to do harm at the annual Christmas parade may want to avoid going to Evans or any county in the CSRA. After a deadly incident in Waukesha, Wisconsin, local police and organizers are gearing up to make sure people enjoy the events as usual.

“We’re always evaluating access to the parade,” Major Chochol said. “We try to harden up any access points to any vehicle or traffic where pedestrians are walking on the parade route. We think we’ve got a pretty good plan in place and we’ll continue to evaluate up to parade kick off.”

Gates will go up again to barricade that traffic at the December 6 affair. Uniformed deputies and a special response team will be in place, doing what they do best. Major Chochol said just like last year, the route surrounds Evans Towne Center Park, pulling parade marchers and watchers off major state thoroughfares such as Washington Road and taking them down North Belair Road and Evans to Locke Road.

Nearby in Grovetown, you can expect safety measures to be in place as well.

“The mayor has told me that we will have officers set up at those cross paths in the parade route and we’re also going to have additional officers during the parade as well,” said Ashley Campbell, City of Grovetown Public Information Officer. That parade takes place Saturday, December 4 at 10:00 a.m. and it starts at Augusta Tech (Grovetown Campus).

The region’s other big parade in Augusta will also be protected.

Richmond County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Scott Redmon shared with NewsChannel 6, “We will have every intersection that is affected by the parade route manned by Richmond County deputies.”

The Garden City’s holiday display put on in conjunction with the Ronald McDonald House on Saturday, December 11 at 6:00 p.m., will also have deputy vehicles and roads barricaded off. A spokesperson from RMH said a meeting was in the works with the City of Augusta Monday.

And in Aiken, Lt. Jennifer Hayes said officers and their vehicles along with cones will block off areas that are vulnerable at the beginning and end of the parade route and cross streets too. You can catch the Aiken Jaycees’ Christmas Parade on Sunday, December 12 at 2:00 p.m. downtown.

While vehicles are being watched, so are people who may want to bring weapons.

“That’s our business. That’s what we do everyday,” Major Chochol reminded.

Since law enforcement agencies cannot share exact plans, more will take place to keep people safe.

Photojournalist: Gary Hipps

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