Boosters seek safety for homecoming parade | October 10, 2008 | Danville Express | |

Danville Express

Newsfront - October 10, 2008

Boosters seek safety for homecoming parade

SRVHS band parents say downtown event can be hazardous

by Geoff Gillette

Things are pretty busy at San Ramon Valley High School right now. The football team is running drills, the band is practicing its formation marching, dresses are being purchased, and suits are being pressed.

Homecoming is only a week away and the Wolves of SRVHS are prepping for a match with the Matadors of Granada High School.

As the time draws nearer, students at the high school enjoy the events leading up to the big game, such as spirit days and the election of the homecoming court. The culminating moment comes Friday, Oct. 17, when students, released early, line up along Railroad and Hartz to await the coming of the annual Homecoming Parade.

But for the parents of the 51 members of the SRVHS Marching Band and Drill Team, this is one of the most stressful times of the celebration. Larry Medina, chairman of the Wolf-Tones booster group, said they love seeing the kids marching in the parade but are worried about student safety.

"We're concerned that the aggressive nature of drivers could pose a threat. We'd like to stop that before it happens," he explained.

Booster club parents and other volunteers typically walk the parade route with the marching band. The volunteers wear bright yellow vests and block off entrances to the street to keep traffic away from the band. Medina said even with the volunteers there have been incidents.

The parade is a short-lived affair. It leaves around 2:30 p.m. from the side exit of the high school onto Love Lane. It then winds its way out onto Railroad, down to Prospect and back up Hartz to the front entrance to the high school. From start to finish, the event usually goes around 45 minutes.

During that time, Medina said only the band members have to deal with any appreciable risk. "There's all the floats, there's all the dignitaries who ride in their cars. We've got flatbed vehicles and pickup trucks that the football players ride in. Everyone else is in a vehicle. The marching band leads the parade, they are unprotected."

Adding to the risk, Medina said the band members are concentrating on marching in step and playing their music so they can't focus too much on what is happening off to the sides.

Medina said he has asked the city to either close the street down for that period of time or provide a police officer to help keep cars off the street during the parade.

Mayor Candace Andersen said she has not spoken with Medina on the issue but agrees that the safety of the children participating in the parade is of paramount importance.

"Safety is a big priority for us," Andersen said. "I know there's been a lot of parent volunteering out there during the parade. I know that it can be frustrating waiting in a line for the parade to go by but I hope that given the sense of community we have here in Danville that they won't mind."

Danville Police Lt. Mark Williams said he was not aware of any past incidents but said the department will be working to maintain a strong presence at the parade.

"We're just looking to make sure this event stays safe," he said. The department is expected to either provide Volunteers In Policing or reserve officers to assist with safety concerns.

Williams said that as the town grows and traffic volumes coming into the downtown increase they will have to reevaluate the safety of the parade and their role in it. "We want to make sure that public safety isn't compromised."

Medina said they have received more vests to be apportioned out to volunteers as well as crossing guard stop signs that they will use to help control traffic around the band members. He added that he will be continuing to work with parent volunteers to staff the event, and he will be approaching parents of children on the football and cheer squads to see if they can be counted on to help as well.