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Christmas Parades are a tradition

A favorite tradition for many towns and communities during this time of year is the popular Christmas parade that usually goes down through the center of town.

Parents should be extra cautious during parades not to let their children get too close to the floats for fear of being run over or falling under a float’s wheels. That is not something any parent or child wants to experience during the holiday season. Christmas is not meant to have to spend the holidays in a hospital room, or worse.

As if getting hit by a parade float along the route isn’t bad enough, I read this week in my hometown newspaper about a near disaster during a parade in Summit, Miss., right on the outskirts of McComb.

The Town of Summit is pretty much one street in length. Robb Street is divided by a railroad track operated by Canadian National.

During Monday night’s annual Christmas parade, a freight train came roaring through town and trapped North Pike High School band members on either side of the track. And to make matters worse, the parade was in the evening hours when visibility was minimal, at best. Reports said the train blew its whistle, but the train was so close to the parade route that it still caught participants off guard. There was little time to react. Thankfully, there were no injuries, but there were plenty of frayed nerves.

A disaster was luckily averted. Town of Summit officials said future parade routes will be changed to avoid any more close calls. I’ll bet parents of the band members who were caught by the train will rest a lot easier when the 2015 Christmas Parade rolls around.

Summit also has its annual Fall Fest by the tracks. I wonder if anything will be changed for that event. I seriously doubt anything will change for that since there are few places to have such an event in Summit except away from town and on the town’s smaller roadways.

That scenario with the train coming through is definitely something Bogalusa city officials should think about regarding future parades. Bogalusa has its Mardi Gras parade crossing railroad tracks on Austin Street. Bogalusa Public Works Director James Hall said the city does indeed take extra precautions when it comes to safety along railroad tracks.

“We always call Canadian National and tell them when we have a parade scheduled,” Hall said. “We tell them to get their trains in and out as soon as possible. You don’t want your Mardi Gras Parade tied up with a train crossing the track. That would be forever and a day for it to pass through. We give them advance warning.”

Hall said Bogalusa has never experienced the type of problem Summit had earlier this week.

“We’ve never had a problem with a train coming through as long as we’ve given them enough notice,” Hall said. “They work with us real good on that.”

That is nice to know, but safety for all concerned is paramount.

Summit officials surely contacted CN, as well, and told it of the parade that was going on. Maybe a train engineer or someone higher up didn’t get the message.

Summit officials said Monday night’s near miss was the first time in Summit a train had interrupted the parade.

Cities are ultimately responsible for the safety of their citizens. All too often miscommunication is the culprit whenever disasters occur. Let’s hope nothing like that happens anywhere around here.

Randy Hammons is a staff writer for the Daily News. He can be contacted by telephone at 985-732-2565 or by email at randy.hammons@thebogalusadailynews.com.