Ticket-writing scatters downtown parkers

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 22, 2004

A sign posted by the Vicksburg Police Department warns motorists to move their cars off Washington Street Thursday afternoon before two high school parades rolled. (Brian LodenThe Vicksburg Post)

[10/22/04]Shoppers who parked their vehicles on Washington Street apparently did not take the “No Parking Parade Route” signs seriously at first. But they sure did when police officers appeared Thursday afternoon and began writing tickets.

The Vicksburg Police Department placed the 2-by-3-foot, red-and-white signs out for the first time early Thursday to warn downtown shoppers they would not be allowed to park on Washington Street between Veto and Jackson streets after 1 p.m. The parade route was needed, officials said, because of back-to-back homecoming parades planned Thursday afternoon by St. Aloysius and Vicksburg high schools.

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“It’s a safety consideration,” Rosalie Theobald, executive director of Vicksburg’s Main Street Program, told the Vicksburg Rotary Club.

That was the point made by Patrolman Bobby Jones of the police department’s Traffic Division.

“With cars parked, people will be standing out in the street,” Jones said, adding that will leave only the center of the street for the parade vehicles to use.

Without vehicles parked in the bays that now line both sides of the renovated Washington Street, Jones said spectators are free to stand on the sidewalks and on street level.

He said the department put the “No Parking” signs out at 6:30 a.m. Thursday so people shopping in the downtown mall area would have plenty of warning before they would be required to move. In spite of that, when officers arrived about 2:30 p.m. virtually all the parking spaces along Washington Street were filled.

That changed rapidly after officers parked their cars, turned on the flashing blue lights, got out their ticket books and began writing tickets. People began running from stores and moving vehicles and, by about 3, the street was clear.

Jones estimated 8,000 to 10,000 showed up to see the two parades.

Deputy Police Chief Richard O’Bannon said the parking restriction will be in place from now on when a parade is planned. He also said safety is the reason for the change.

“We don’t want children running from between parked cars,” he said.

Nancy Bullard of Sassafras at 1406 Washington St. said late Thursday afternoon that it was too early to tell if parking changes would harm business.

“This is a nice place to have a parade,” she said pointing to the renovated street.

The city completed renovations on Washington Street in 2003 at a cost of about $2.6 million.

Candy Derivaux, owner of the Purple Ladder restaurant in the 1300 block of Washington Street, favored the temporary parking ban, but thought the police put it into effect too early.

“A lot of people are just now coming to lunch,” she said about midafternoon.