GALESBURG — Enhanced security measures will be in place when the Galesburg Holly Days Parade steps off Dec. 5 in downtown Galesburg.
The annual holiday parade, organized by the Downtown Community Partnership of Galesburg, moves to an evening event this year, with a scheduled 5 p.m. start on the normal parade route along Main Street.
In light of the recent tragedy during a Christmas parade in Waukesha, Wisconsin, the city of Galesburg has developed an enhanced plan for blocking off the parade route, including increased police presence with uniformed officers at every intersection, as well as police vehicles leading and ending the parade procession. Both lighted and unlighted barricades will be utilized to help control traffic and public safety and public works vehicles will both be present during the parade.
At least six people have died and more than 60 were injured — at least 18 of them children — after the driver of an SUV broke through a barrier and plowed into a Christmas parade in suburban Waukesha, Wisconsin, on Nov. 21.
“The safety of the community is the top priority of the Galesburg Police Department,” Galesburg Police Chief Russ Idle said. “While tragedy can unexpectedly strike in any circumstance, please rest assured that the police department makes every effort to provide for a controlled and safe environment in which the community can feel safe celebrating and enjoying the parade.”
The Galesburg Fire Department will also be involved in the parade through its traditional rescue of Santa from the rooftop.
“The city is thankful for wonderful organizations such as the Downtown Community Partnership that plan and host fun events for citizens,” Galesburg City Manager Todd Thompson said. “We are happy to partner with them on safety measures and look forward to a fun and safe community event.”
Peoria planned to take similar measures for its 134th annual Santa Claus Parade, the longest-running holiday parade in the country. Peoria police said those attending the parade would see more police barriers as well as city vehicles blocking access to multiple downtown streets and sidewalks to provide additional safety measures.
In Galesburg, the traditional Santa Rescue will take place at 4:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 5 downtown, followed by the parade at 5 p.m. More than 55 organizations have entered the Holly Days Parade.
Roots of a Galesburg Christmas parade trace back until at least 1953. The parade was not held in 2020 due to the pandemic, but instead downtown Galesburg hosted a “reverse parade” where businesses decorated their storefronts.
This article originally appeared on Galesburg Register-Mail: Galesburg takes extra precautions, in light of Waukesha, Wisconsin, parade deaths