The Waxahachie School District will be evaluating the possibility of using a new route for its annual Homecoming parade next year.
This year’s parade upset some of the local residents when the parade was delayed about an hour after two trains had crossed the parade route.
Earlier this fall, the district changed the route of Friday’s Homecoming parade to make sure safety was a priority. The new route, proposed by students, would have traveled along Brown Street and ended at Lumpkins Stadium.
Nikki Burdine, a first-time WHS Homecoming parade watcher, said she got to her spot on the parade route at 2:30 p.m. — 30 minutes before its expected 3 p.m. start and didn’t know what the delay was. She was there to watch her daughter come by on one of the floats, she said, adding the family had just moved to the area this year.
“I didn’t know want the hang-up was and I started texting my daughter who was on a float and asking her if they had even left yet. They didn’t know what the hang up was either. They were just sitting there waiting,” Burdine said. “I think that they really need to pay attention to the timing because a lot of people did take off from work to spend with their family. So they really need to plan that out. Have ample space for people to sit along the parade route and park. It is too congested along the main route.”
Burdine suggested taking the issue of the trains out of the picture would be the best solution because there are other spots in the city where the parade would not be affected by them, she said.
The city council rejected the new route at the Oct. 5 meeting and voted to use the original route instead, starting at the post office located at 316 N. College St., then traveling to Main Street, to U.S. Highway 77, to Marvin Avenue and then back to the post office on College Street. The council voted to keep the original route, used for decades, because of tradition and a need for more time to evaluate the idea of a new route.
“Well, I think that we will do the same that we did this year. The railroad will not stop the train. They won’t postpone it. That is going to have to be dealt with,” said city Manager Paul Stevens. “Of course, this year we had spotters to the east and the west so we could get early notification of a train. So we will do those things.”
Stevens said the decision to change the parade route is up to the school district. If a change is made, the city will work with the district to ensure its continued safety for both parade participants and parade watchers.
David Hill, city council member, shared Stevens thoughts, but added that safety improvements along the route could be made.
“We could have done better with some more barricades on some of the side streets to stop traffic. Everyone was still trying to come in from the neighborhoods that were not attending the parade. So we had that happen,” Hill said. “Other than that, everything went ok. Jeremy Glenn (WISD Superintendent) was there standing on the corner, monitoring stuff with the police department or whoever was in control. I don’t think that there were in major issues.”
Hill said the only problem that came up this year was mixed communication between the city and the district on the new proposed route. Hill suggested the district, the city and the community work together and gather input to find a better route that is acceptable for everyone.
Candace Ahlfinger, WISD Director of Public Relations, said the district is going to look at finding an different route for next year.
“We are going to be looking into the alternate route that was suggested. We always evaluate after every event. We evaluate the process to see what happened and what we can do to improve it,” Ahlfinger said. “We will be working with the city, police and fire (departments) and with the railroad to see what we can do to help for next year. We value tradition but as our community grows and changes we also value student safety and that has to come first. We will be looking into it. We want our alumni happy and our current students happy. Safety is our first priority. We want everyone safe.”
One of the parade attendees was Judy Fletcher, who is the owner and director of Children’s Montessori Center. Fletcher brought her students to watch the parade and said something needs to be worked out with the railroad so a delay like Friday’s won’t happen in the future. She advocated for using Brown Street for the route because it a straight shot to the football stadium.
But once the parade started going, Fletcher said “the wait is always worth it.”