Parade tragedy prompts warnings

Nov. 23—A Christmas parade turned tragic in Raleigh has prompted local law enforcement to implore safety measures from participants of Clinton's upcoming parade.

On Monday, Clinton Police Chief Anthony Davis sent a notice to "all parade participants" set to be a part of the Clinton-Sampson Chamber of Commerce Christmas Parade. The parade will be start at 10 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 10, traversing through the downtown as it has in previous years to the delight of the many along the parade route.

"Parades are a common event in most cities across the United States and, unfortunately, have been marred by tragedies with the most recent one involving a child being ran over by a runaway vehicle following a brake malfunction," Clinton Police Chief Anthony Davis in his letter.

A 20-year-old motorist was driving a white pickup truck towing a float in Saturday's Raleigh Christmas Parade when he lost control and hit the girl, who died from her injuries. The man was charged with misdemeanor death by motor vehicle, careless and reckless driving, using improper equipment, unsafe movement and carrying a firearm in a parade. He was released on bond.

Nobody else at the parade was injured in the collision.

Davis implored those operating a vehicle in the parade to know the procedures to stop the vehicle in the event of an emergency — whether that is the emergency brake, shifting vehicle to park, shutting the vehicle off or another measure.

"All makes and manufacturers are different, so you should familiarize yourself with the operation of your vehicle," the police chief stated.

The police chief also offered a reminder that there is to be no candy thrown from floats or other participants during the parade route.

"Candy will be given out by parade staff walking along the Santa float. Officers have been instructed to immediately address any safety concerns seen throughout the parade route," said Davis. "Our ultimate goal is to make this the safest event possible for our community. By working together, we can achieve this goal."

Matt Stone, executive director of the Chamber, said he was looking forward to the annual event, which is widely attended by many in and around Clinton and Sampson County.

"I'm looking forward to the happiness of the holiday season, and the excitement that surrounds the Chamber parade," said Stone. "Each year the floats continue to impress and we will also be offering new sponsorship opportunities; I encourage anyone interested to reach out."

The parade has been a spectacle for children and adults alike through the years.

"It's a great way to kick Christmas off for Clinton," said Frankie Owens, a parade committee member and owner of Owens Home Furnishings.

Lineup and attendees have continued to grow, exceeding previous years.

This year the parade will be dedicated to Bill Turlington for his long-devoted service to the community and his love of the annual event. Turlington passed away in October.

Those wishing to participate can find applications on the Chamber's website, at clintonsampsonchamber.org, under the Events tab. The entire process can be completed online. The deadline for applications is Nov. 30.

The parade is a fundraiser for Sampson-based non-profit charitable organizations.

See our separate story on today's front page on other parades and Christmas events happening locally.