Raleigh council votes to again allow motorized vehicles in parades but with new safety regulations

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Tuesday, June 18, 2024
Raleigh council votes to allow motorized vehicles in parades
New parade safety requirements have been in the works for the past year.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Raleigh City Council unanimously approved new regulations to allow motorized vehicles back into parades.

City staff have been working for the past year on new parade safety requirements, teaming up with public safety officials for some of the largest and most complex parades across the country.

These new and enhanced requirements include:

  • Parade organizers must screen entries by collecting a valid driver's license for the class of vehicle they wish to operate in the parade with no relevant moving violations., and evidence an operator is trained to safely operate a specialty float and the vehicle is appropriately rated to tow the assigned float.
  • For any motorized vehicle in the parade, organizers must have proof of a recent (within 30 days of the event) vehicle safety check by a qualified mechanic familiar with that type of vehicle. The inspection must include operation of the vehicle's brakes, tires, lights, horn, emissions, and a current registration.
  • Parade organizers must conduct a risk assessment to identify risks that are most likely to occur or would have the greatest impact on participants or spectators.
  • Parade organizers must now obtain an Operator Safety Acknowledgement from each driver.
  • Parade organizers will ensure that every motorized vehicle included in the parade satisfies points of inspection in the Motorized Vehicle Inspections Checklist before the vehicle leaves the staging area.
  • Parade organizers will hold required meetings with participants prior to event.
  • Parade organizers will be required to submit an official lineup of all parade entries to the City.

The new requirements take effect June 25.

WATCH | Raleigh City Council work on new parade safety requirements

City staff have been working for the past year on new parade safety requirements and recommendations

The ban on cars and floats happened last year after the death of 11-year-old Hailey Brooks. She was a young dancer struck and killed during the city's 2022 Christmas parade.

"Hailey's family has been tirelessly advocating for common-sense measures to improve parade safety," family attorney Jason A. Miller said in a statement to ABC11. "These new safety protocols should have been in place years ago and could have prevented Hailey's death. Hailey loved parades and took great joy in making other people happy. While these measures will not bring Hailey back, they might save another child. The family supports any measures that allow the Raleigh Christmas Parade to continue in a manner that ensures the safety of participants and attendees, as well as the enjoyment of the community."

Tuesday's vote and announcement is the culmination of months of difficult conversations between the city, Raleigh's business community and the public. Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin credited city staff for working with major cities like New York and Los Angeles - and organizers of their flagship events like the Rose Bowl Parade and Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade - in crafting these new guidelines.

"They said, let's go look at national models. Let's go look and see what others are doing. And that type of guidance has been really helpful," she said.

Baldwin said she feels confident this is a strategy that will work long-term.

"This isn't something that was just done out of the blue," she said. "A lot of hard work went into it. And I think we feel good about the research that's been done and the number of recommendations that have been made."

Jennifer Martin of Shop Local Raleigh - a key player in Christmas Parade planning and a strong advocate for the return of motorized vehicles and floats - said she's encouraged, but has concerns about the volume of changes with applications for fall parades fast approaching.

"I think the first part is going to be to really dive into what all is going to be involved. What do we have to do and is it feasible, can we still do it?" Martin said.

She said it will be incumbent for every parade organizer to work together to make sure the new safety requirements are met.

"I want to make sure that we can all try and help each other. How can we work together? Because there is a lot of changes coming, but at least we know now what those changes are," she said.

RELATED | Raleigh city officials, parade organizers meet to discuss future events, motorized vehicles