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Upshur County Office of Emergency Management Director Steve Wykoff addresses the Consolidated Public Works Board. / Photo by Monica Zalaznik

City board votes to extend all future parade routes to the end of East Main Street

BUCKHANNON – The Consolidated Public Works Board agreed to extend all parade routes to the end of East Main Street.

The CPWB received a request from the West Virginia Strawberry Festival board to extend the Grand Feature Parade route to the end of East Main Street during their April 27 meeting.

“There was a meeting held with some of our public safety officers and the Strawberry Festival Board where it was suggested that it would make things a lot easier if the parade did not end at the Charles Gibson Library, but instead at the end of East Main Street, at the corner of College Avenue,” Mayor Robbie Skinner said. “That way, you could have the band kids turning left and going into the parking lot, you could have the floats turning right and going up College Avenue, and you have a way to separate things out and get them cleaned up, so it’s not a bottleneck at the end.”

Skinner emphasized this change would mean no cars could be parked along this extended path before or during the parade, as per an ordinance passed in 2022. Board member Jack Reger asked where the aid station would be placed if the parade’s end point was moved.  

Steve Wykoff, director of the Upshur County Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management Department, said they had already selected a new location.

“We’re working with [West Virginia] Wesleyan on that right now,” Wykoff said. “We’ve always backed up at the Gibson Library, and we can never get the floats to go far enough forward, and as soon as it starts backing up at the Gibson Library, you have people offloading in front of the Bicentennial, you have people offloading at Stockert, and it causes a ridiculous mess.”

“That is one of the worst traffic posts (location) from a law enforcement standpoint, and we argue between the sheriff’s department and the police department as to who’s going to take it, but there has never been a real solution for that,” he added.

Wykoff said they started examining the route in anticipation of the 2023 World Association of Marching Show Bands Championship this July.

“We’ve already made the plans and extended that parade route to go down to the college for WAMSB,” he explained. “The college is a more ideal place. Not only do we have roads going right and left, but there’s a big grassy area that’s much larger than the triangle in front of the Gibson Library.”

Randy Sanders, city recorder and WAMSB 2023 Buckhannon Host Committee president, apologized for extending their route before the meeting and asked if this new route would be in effect for other parades. Skinner said the new route would be the designated parade route for future events in Buckhannon.

“We don’t foresee this being a 2023 thing; the framework we’re putting in place right now between WAMSB and Strawberry Festival is going to be the emergency planning framework for any festival coming into Buckhannon for years to come,” Wykoff said. “In regard to extending the route, this would be something we’ll do next year and the year after that and so forth.”

A full schedule of parades and other events for the 2023 Strawberry Festival can be found on My Buckhannon.

In other CPWB news:

  • The board approved a recommendation from the Buckhannon Parks & Recreation Advisory Board regarding the Fred Brooks Triangle Park that includes upgrades to the existing flower beds, with funding supplied by the club.
  • The board approved an event request and street closure for the Buckhannon Academy Elementary Schools Chair Races along Smithfield Street from College to Victoria Street.
  • The board approved an event request for the Buckhannon Academy Elementary School Leadership Day Parade involving Victoria Street, Florida Street and College Avenue.
  • The board approved an event request for the Upshur Cooperative Parish Pentecost Gospel Sing at Jawbone Park June 4, 2023, 4 to 8 p.m.
  • The board approved an event request for the Corpus Christi Procession Walking on Foot event at Jawbone Park June 11, 2023.

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