HOLYOKE, Mass. (WGGB) — Holyoke’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade may be ten days away, but those who live and work along the route are busy preparing for the 400,000 people expected to attend.
In recent years, parade goers have been putting chairs out along the route days in advance, so they can save the perfect spot. In fact, Northampton Street parade goers began claiming their turf on The Center School’s front lawn last year a week in advance.
“There was some furniture, there were tarps, beach chairs, it was very colorful,” The Center School Director Nichole LaChapelle said.
New measures are in place to keep sidewalks clear until the big weekend.
LaChapelle says all that clutter prevented her students from safely using sidewalks and crosswalks that lead to a nearby park. The school installed an orange fence is this year, preventing early birds from swooping in.
“We have to run our school as quietly and orderly as you possibly can run a school,” LaChapelle said.
“We don’t want to cause a public safety issue here,” Parade Committee member Ray Feyre said.
Feyre also says this year if people put out chairs a week early , they could face fines from the city.
“Those people that put out their chairs a week in advance really cause a concern for those people that are walking the streets and sidewalks, those who are jogging, and those who are driving by,” Feyre said.
But The Center School says they have parade day spirit and that’s why at 9:00 a.m. on the parade day, the orange fence will come down and allow anyone who wants a chance to see the big day.
“Folks will put up their chairs and we have regular members of the public that we see once a year who come and say hello and park with their families,” LaChapelle said.
Parade organizers say it’s the perfect compromise. LaChapelle says her school is looking forward to seeing everyone this year, Just not until parade day.
You can put your chairs out only one or two days before the parade. Organizers say they’ve also banned silly string along the route this year.