HELENA, Ala. (WIAT) – On Friday, the holiday season kicked off in Alabama with Governor Kay Ivey lighting the state’s tree in Montgomery.
As festivities get underway, the City of Helena has extra safety precautions for Saturday’s 50th Christmas parade. This comes in light of the deadly Wisconsin parade crash.
Friday’s celebrations started with the lighting of Helena’s Christmas tree.
“Safety and public safety is our number one priority but also having a great time doing it,” Mayor Brian Puckett said. “This type of event really brings in that small town feel. It’s the culture that we like to have in the city.”
Extra officers were already out Friday for the festival, getting people safely to and from it.
“We’re not worried about anything per se, but we take every event seriously and this event is no different,” Chief Brad Flynn said.
According to Flynn, the department has been planning for Saturday’s parade since October. This year they will block more roads and have more officers from neighboring agencies on hand.
“We take the safety of everyone that comes to the parade very seriously,” Flynn said. “We are on a little bit more of an alert with the parade with the recent events that have been going on.”
Ann Mace and her granddaughter Emma Jensen said they didn’t notice a huge difference Friday night with security.
“I know they’re always here and they’re always available whenever we need them,” Mace said. “They’re great, they’re really great.”
They said they’re glad to have the extra support.
“They’re out here protecting us and making sure nothing happens,” Jensen said. “That’s what their job is and we thank them for that.”
This is so that the holiday festivities can go on.
“We want everyone to come out here, feel safe, and we’re going to be out here in numbers and we’re going to make it a great and safe day,” Flynn said. “We’ll have officers out in uniform all throughout the parade route. If you see something that concerns you, by all means let one of us know.”
Saturday’s parade kicks off at 1 p.m. along Main Street. The police ask that you allow for plenty of extra time because there will be extra roads closed to ensure that safety along the route.