Safety concern prompts parade route change

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COLUMBIA - Columbia police asked Salute to Veteran Memorial Day parade organizers to change the parade route for safety reasons. 

The route will no longer go past the large parking garage on Walnut across from the post office, instead it will go to Fourth Street and then turn north. Parade volunteer Richard Grant said the parade will mainly stay on Broadway this year. 

"The law enforcement is concerned that we don't accidentally block in the police department and all of their parking facilities," Parade volunteer Richard Grant said.

Grant said the police department asked to change the route because the police park their vehicles inside the garage on Walnut, and the police would not be able to access their vehicles in case of an emergency.  

"We complied with their wishes and made that slight adjustment. It really doesn't make the parade any longer or shorter," Grant said. 

Grant said people are encouraged to go to the Courthouse Ceremony after the parade even though the parade doesn't end at the Boone County Courthouse anymore. These events wrap up the 6-day Salute to Veterans celebration with a 21-gun salute, a speech, and "Amazing Grace" performed by Boone County Fire Protection District Bagpipers.

Weather is another safety concern, but in 27 years of having the parade weather has only cancelled the event once.

"Safety is of paramount importance. We're not going to put any of the crowd or any of the participants in any kind of jeopardy because of lightening, thunderstorms, etc," Grant said. 

Grant said organizers will not call off the parade until right before it's about to begin in case the weather is bad.

"We have every hope that the parade will go on as scheduled, and we have a lot of volunteers who help with all aspects," Grant said. 

Grant also said the parade is a festive occasion and it's all about honoring and remembering those who served or are serving right now.