EAU CLAIRE (WQOW) - It's time to hear those sleigh bells jingling at local Christmas parades here in the Chippewa Valley, but with the lives lost at the Waukesha parade, Eau Claire officials are making sure this year's parade is as safe as possible.
During Friday's Clearwater Winter Parade in Eau Claire, guests will see a large city vehicle like a snow plow or garbage truck blocking off certain intersections to help prevent someone from accidentally, or purposefully, going through.
Like previous years, a police squad car will lead the front of the parade in Eau Claire, and about nine law enforcement personnel will help with street closures.
"The safety of our participants and spectators is a primary focus. Always is, always has been," said Dawn Comte, city of Eau Claire recreation manager. "We are stepping up a little bit with putting more heavy machinery, our heavier trucks, at some of our major intersections to help block our streets a little bit more securely."
In the past, Eau Claire city workers closed the streets about 15 to 30 minutes before the event, but this year they are closing them off an hour beforehand at 5:30 p.m. The parade starts at 6:30 p.m. near the corner of West Grand Avenue and 2nd Avenue, goes past Owen Park, and ends on 1st Avenue and Chippewa Street.
Comte added they are looking to pay tribute to the victims of the Waukesha parade, but they are still working on details as to how exactly.
Chippewa Falls Main Street is hosting the Wonderland Parade on Saturday at 6 p.m. on Bridge Street, and officials said they're still ironing out safety details. However, Chippewa Falls police chief Matthew Kelm did tell News 18 they are being extra vigilant by adding additional officers for the event.