PSA: Anyone who parks along a parade route during Strawberry Festival could be towed (and billed)

BUCKHANNON – A new city ordinance prohibiting parking during a parade will be in effect for Strawberry Festival this weekend.

Buckhannon City Council officially adopted the new ordinance Feb. 17, 2022, so the 80th annual West Virginia Strawberry Festival will be the first time it will go into effect. City recorder and information coordinator Randy Sanders said vehicles cannot be parked on the designated parade route one hour before the start of a parade.

“The signage will be posted up and down the parade route and they’re going to put those signs up the night before the first parade,” Sanders said.

The first parade of the festival will be the Horse and Carriage Parade, which is scheduled for 3 p.m. this Saturday, May 14. The parade route, also known as Strawberry Lane, starts at the corner of Marion and Pocahontas streets, travels up Marion to South Kanawha Street, goes down South Kanawha Street all the way to the triangle, and then it stays on Route 20 North to the courthouse, which is Locust Street. It then turns down Main Street and goes all the way through town prior to ending at the Charles W. Gibson Public Library, Buckhannon mayor Robbie Skinner said.

Skinner noted several of the streets that comprise the parade route already do not permit vehicle parking.

“There’s already no parking on Kanawha, Marion or East Main streets, so we are really only talking about the business district of Main Street,” Skinner said Monday.

Other festival parades include the Junior Royalty Parade at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, May 19; the Firemen’s Parade at 6:30 p.m. Friday, May 20; and the Grand Feature Parade Saturday at 1 p.m. Saturday, May 21.  

Sanders said the ordinance is intended to allow for a smoother parade flow while keeping residents and visitors safe.

“One of the concerns I had as city recorder was safety,” Sanders said. “We need all motor vehicles off of the main parade route, so that way there couldn’t be any accidental injuries if somebody had to try to retrieve their car during the middle of a parade. It’s also a consideration for the parade participants, to be able to bank on and fully march the parade route without going around a parked car, so it just opens up the entire parade route as it should be.”

Any vehicles parked on the parade route an hour before the start of a parade will find their car has been towed. The ordinance gives the Buckhannon Police Department the authority to “immediately remove any motor vehicle parked on-street in violation of Article I of this Ordinance, including through the use of third-party towing services.”

The law goes on to say that “the make, model, color, state license number, or other identifying information, together with the identity of any person or firm who shall have towed the vehicle pursuant to this subsection, shall be recorded to facilitate the return of any towed vehicle to its rightful owner.”

However, the vehicle’s owner – not the City of Buckhannon – will be billed to cover the cost of “any towing or impoundment fees charged for the relocation of the violating motor vehicle.”

In a previous reading of the ordinance city attorney Tom O’Neill said the driver will also receive two warnings and then a fine.

“While somebody may be towed, they would receive a warning instead of a fine in addition to the tow on a first or second offense because the key for this ordinance is to get the vehicle cleared off the street, not necessarily that the vehicle owner gets fined,” O’Neill said at the time.

View the full ordinance on the city’s website here.  

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