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Volunteers help keep city parade-goers in line

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Eamonn Devaney and Evelyn Herring pick out their parade marshall vests during a meeting for volunteers helping to put on the Fredericksburg Jaycees Christmas Parade in the city’s Council Members on Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013. (GRIFFIN MOORES / THE FREE LANCE-STAR)

Eamonn Devaney says he thinks Saturday’s Fredericksburg Jaycees Christmas Parade was more orderly than in the past.

He attributes that at least partly to the additional volunteers, a role he and others assumed for the first time Saturday night.

“It’s almost like having one of those safety patrol people in school. … If people see that, sometimes it makes them think twice” before breaking the rules, said Devaney, 30, who lives downtown.

The city of Fredericksburg instituted safety standards for this year’s parade to try to prevent accidents that have happened elsewhere—like in Florida, where a girl was run over by a float a few years ago.

Among the new mandates was that the parade must have at least 35 volunteers—about twice the number the event has had in the past.

Several volunteers, like Devaney, signed up after hearing about the need on Facebook.

Parade organizes warned the approximately 50 volunteers at a meeting Saturday that they may encounter rude people.

In previous years, parade attendees have spilled out onto the streets to watch the festivities. But this year, volunteers had to tell them to keep off the blacktop for their safety.

Fortunately, most people were understanding, said Devaney, who was stationed at the corner of William and Princess Anne streets.

Nick Morabito, a 20-year-old Eagle Scout from Stafford County, also said he had a good experience as a first-time parade volunteer.

“I was very impressed with the positive responses I got from those attending the parade. If I told them to move, they would move.”

He volunteered with his mom, Annette Morabito, 46, who said it was a nice mother–son activity. She said she enjoyed talking with other volunteers at a post-parade reception at Colonial Tavern in Fredericksburg.

“At Christmastime, we try to give back,” Annette Morabito said.

Karen Hedelt, Fredericksburg’s director of economic development and tourism, estimated that more than 10,000 people attended the parade, about the same as in past years.

Still, public works crews had the downtown roads cleaned and reopened about an hour after the parade.

“We were really pleased,” Hedelt said. “I think, by and large, most people adjusted to the changes well, and they had a good understanding of why we were doing them.”

Jeff Branscome: 540/374-5402

jbranscome@freelancestar.com

 

 

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