SYDNEY, N.S. Joe Costello did not sleep well on Saturday night.
But it was not because Sydney Santa Claus Parade whom he helped to organize had encountered some major issues. With all accounts, the annual event that delighted thousands of spectators along its five-kilometer route was a huge success and had gone without hitch.
His outrage was caused by the tragic news he heard when he returned home after the parade. Costello said he had only come to the door when he learned about the death of a four-year-old girl who had fallen under a float during Yarmouth's annual Christmas paradise.
"As a parent and as an organizer, when I heard about the Yarmouth tragedy, it was totally devastating – it made me really think of everything we've done," said Costello, a recreational program coordinator with Cape Breton Regional Municipality.
"It's a really emotional time right now, but I think it's important that we take a deep look at what we do by receiving the feelings of it, making sure we have all our bases covered and that we are doing our best for to protect participants and audiences to ensure everyone has a nice time with this parade and other CBRM events, for a long time to come. "
To this end, the municipality's senior staff and its recreation department are expected to meet once a week to discuss what further measures may be considered to prevent incidents such as Saturday's tragedy in Yarmouth.
According to Costello, security is the highest priority for the organizers. He said that strict rules are already in place and strengthened to float operators and parade participants when they register on the pre-parade staging area.
He noted that the rules stipulate that persons on a float must be safe on board and that their legs can not duck over the edge and that riders on fleets can not jump on or off. Costello also said that a special parade marshalk rises up and down the procession checks to ensure that the rules, such as "no throw candy" rules and other provisions are consistent with.
"We also have members of the regional police service at Cape Breton on site," he said.
"We have those who lead the parade, we have a motorcycle officer, we had another on a bike and we had more at the main crossings, so there were no traffic problems and that the parental rules were followed and the audience is sure."
But Costello said that when it comes to a big event like the parade, security for all concerned is a shared responsibility.
"We do what we can do, but we also expect parents and adults to be there and watch out for the kids," he said.
Veteran first responder Gerald Hazelhurst convinced that Sydney Santa parade is one of the safest around. He participated in hundreds of public events, including parades, as a member of St John's Ambulance and the Red Cross.
"I do not remember any serious problems in any of the many parades I was part of," said Hazelhurst.
But with that you said you have to watch out for the kids, just look at the eyes when Santa will come, they're all happy and jumping.
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He also suggested that adults create more dangerous situations than the children.
"I've seen adults over and over again just in front of a float to get to the other side of the street – they do not like it," he said.
"But the most dangerous part of the parade is when it's over – traffic can be terrible, and some people seem to lose that Christmas Eve as soon as the paradise is over and they can not wait to get out of there."
At the same time, the municipality's Santa Claus paradise continues on Friday in Louisbourg (7:00), on Saturday at Reserve Mines (1 pm) and Glace Bay (6:00), on Sunday in Dominion (4:15 pm) and in North Sydney on Saturday , Dec 8 (6 pm).