Bristol Police officers will be out in force Friday lining the streets and patrolling the parade route to help ensure a fun, family-friendly atmosphere.
That is hardly ever a problem on parade day, according to Deputy Chief Steven Contente, as parade goers want only to enjoy themselves with their families. Almost exclusively, the revelers cooperate with police and each other to create a fun, peaceful environment.
“Last year, we did have some arrests for disorderly and fighting, but that was after hours the night before,” Deputy Chief Contente said. “I don’t recall any arrests during the parade.”
Just to make sure, more than 100 officers will be lining High and Hope streets, making themselves visible along the entire parade route. Officers will also be patrolling on bicycles and keying in on potential trouble spots.
“If there’s a rowdy area, we’ll post officers nearby,” he said. “We try out best to keep it a family event.”
To that end, alcohol is banned along the entire parade route, as it is on all public streets. Fireworks are also off-limits, as are poppers, water guns and any projectiles. Dogs are not allowed anywhere along the parade route.
Deputy Chief Contente advises all parade goers to take care of their own personal safety and comfort, and alert the nearest officer or call 911 if they see anything suspicious.
The department has also asked residents to download VizSAFE, a global social media network dedicated to community safety. The app, downloadable for iPhones and Android phones, allows residents to take part in public safety by capturing and sending photos or videos of crime or any emergency situation directly to emergency responders.
After the parade, the mass exodus from town begins. To help expedite the traffic, extra northbound lanes will be open on Metacom Avenue from Bayview Avenue to the Warren town line. Traffic officers will be on hand to relieve traffic congestion as quickly as possible.
As for the potential of Hurricane Arthur disrupting the celebration that has taken place for 228 consecutive years, Deputy Chief Contente isn’t too concerned, noting they’ve marched in bad weather before.
“People have a real sense of patriotism. They’ll be there,” he said. “We hope to have a good day and keep the tradition alive.”