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Smithfield Health Days parade back on Main Street this year

October 19th, 2015 Posted in Opinion

By Rebecca Wheatley

SMITHFIELD — In 2005, the city moved its annual Health Days Parade from Main Street to 100 East. Now, city officials and the Utah Department of Transportation are working together to move the parade back to its original route.

“This has been a request that I’ve heard for at least the six years I’ve been mayor,” said Mayor Darrell Simmons. “It takes good planning and it takes a vision, but it also is an important part of the celebration and the community during Health Days.”

Back on Main — The parade will go up Main Street, while north- and southbound traffic will travel on 100 West and 100 East.

Back on Main — The parade will go up Main Street, while north- and southbound traffic will travel on 100 West and 100 East.

At last week’s City Council meeting, Simmons asked Police Chief Travis Allen to present a plan for the city to move the parade back onto Main Street.

Allen said the new plan would be to run the parade on Main Street from 400 South to 400 North. Traffic would be diverted around the parade on 100 East and 100 West.

“One of the advantages of setting up the parade this way is that when we were running it on 100 East, we were blocking off all the major roadways that ran to Smithfield on the east side,” Allen said, “We feel like this will be easier for traffic flow and easier for parade participants.”

Because Main Street is also U.S. Hwy. 91, the city will have to work closely with the state Department of Transportation (UDOT) to close that road during the parade and divert traffic to another route.

Darin Fristrup, a UDOT traffic operations engineer, said the department doesn’t have a concern with the parade going down Main Street, but he said it’s important that the city understand the traffic and safety concerns of making this change.

“The city will be indemnifying UDOT for any safety concerns that do arise during the parade,” Fristrup said. “Any accidents or damage to roadways during the parade will be the responsibility of the city to cover.”

Fristrup said UDOT did a traffic study two weeks ago on U.S. 91 through Smithfield. He said between 3,400 and 4,400 vehicles would be traveling on 100 East and 100 West during the parade. Fristrup added that 10 percent to 15 percent of those vehicles would be trucks and trailers.

“We want to make city residents, especially those living on 100 East and 100 West, aware that there will be a heavy amount of traffic on these roads at that time,” Fristrup said.

He also said traffic signs, sidewalks and parade parking would need to be taken into consideration along the traffic diversion routes.

Mike Nelson, who chaired the Health Days Committee when the parade route was changed in 2005, said the new route was supposed to be for only one year due to construction on Main Street.

“This will work out have a wider street to work with, and we can have more people involved with the parade,” Nelson said.

Local business owners and parade participants voiced their support for the parade route change. Rigo Chapparo owns a State Farm Insurance office on Main Street. He said he would love to see the parade moved.

“As a business owner, we would love to have the parade in front of our business,” Chapparo said. “I understand there are other issues, but from a business standpoint, I hope it happens.”

Bruce Jones has had his Farm Bureau Insurance business involved with the parade for many years. Its float features a large dinosaur that had to be moved up and down 40 times when the parade was on 100 East to avoid power lines.

“We have the drop the dinosaur every time we go under the power lines, with the current route,” he said. “We’ve been very blessed that we haven’t pulled down a power line yet.”

Jones said he believes he won’t have to drop his dinosaur at all if the parade travels on Main Street.

Members of the Smithfield Historical Society also said they are in favor of moving the parade back to the original route on Main Street. Ruth Swaner, vice president of the society, said she remembers how the Main Street parade fondly from her childhood.

“Over 20 years ago, my mother was over the parade, and she did a great job,” Swaner said. “I remember that she got two jets from Hill Air Force Base to fly over Main Street right before the parade started. I thought that was so awesome.”

Jeffry Gittins has lived in Smithfield all of his life. He said the Main Street parade is one of his fondest memories of the town.

“For me, the parade has never seemed as grand since that move,” Gittins said.

Councilmember Barbara Kent said she is in favor of working with UDOT to move the parade back to Main Street.

“We’ve heard from business and we’ve heard from residents and also from parade participants and I have actually not heard any opposition to this,” Kent said. “So I think it’s a good thing for us to try to move forward and see what we can do to work together.”

TP

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