SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - The future of parades on State Street in Santa Barbara is still up in the air with the current recommendation by the city to keep parades out of that area while the promenade's master plan is worked out.
There is also a safety concern about crowd gathering in that area.
Santa Barbara Police Commander MaryLinda Arroyo said the department and public service team is concerned, "anytime we have a parade and a gathering of a large group of individuals."
With the new look she said, "we have extreme concerns with the parklets in the roadways and doing parades in such a way that parade participants would have to ebb and flow around the those parklets as well as pedestrians on the sidewalks."
She said the public would want to put their seats in the street area, thus restricting the street even more than it is now.
She was concerned about "potential stampedes" in a major emergency.
"The return of parades to State Street from a public safety standpoint have nothing to do with whether there are outdoor facilities there or not. If the street is empty you have concerns," said Councilmember Mike Jordan in a discussion with Arroyo.
Old Spanish Days First Vice President David Bolton said the Fiesta Parade this year on Cabrillo Boulevard, while it looked well attended, did not have many people past Garden Street.
"It wasn't ideal. It looked nice there were palm trees. There were issues getting to the parade.We estimated our attendance was down 25 percent - 30 percent of what it normally is," said Bolton.
He suggested, if State Street is closed for a period of time he said, the parade should be allowed to go up Santa Barbara Street.
"How cool would that be to take that Fiesta parade right through the heart where this city was founded in 1782 by Junipero Serra in the Presidio, and go by the historic museum and and go by the courthouse," said Bolton. He also said the Old Spanish Days board would be talking about this situation immediately.
Resident John Altman recalls seeing the Solstice parade there. "There was a big party going on. We were down in front but we had a very nice time."
On State Street assessing the situation, Ronnie Johnson said, "I think we can survive by putting them somewhere else . I think these parklets are more important than just a parade. It's doing miracles for these businesses."
Jenny Yarbrough has seen and been in parades in Santa Barbara since she was little. Going into a restaurant she said, "having the parades on State Street is one of the best things ever and I fully support it and I think they should keep it on State Street. I think it just makes it so much more fun. It brings people together. "