HONESDALE, PA — When COVID-19 safety precautions necessitated an abridged version of Honesdale’s annual Memorial Day parade last year, parade coordinator Jessica Pachuta assured …
HONESDALE, PA — When COVID-19 safety precautions necessitated an abridged version of Honesdale’s annual Memorial Day parade last year, parade coordinator Jessica Pachuta assured disappointed residents that the route would return to normal by 2022.
“People were so sad, they were so upset,” Pachuta said. “But we kind of made it the understanding that it was just because of COVID-19, and our goal would be to come back in 2022 with the original route, and people were OK with that.”
The procession this year, however, will follow the same shortened route as 2021. This time around, it’s not because of COVID-19 protocols, but new safety regulations.
“For 25-plus years,” the parade had proceeded down North Main Street, over the bridge into downtown, and continued the full length of Main Street. Like so much else, the event was canceled in 2020 because of the pandemic. The following year, it returned in an abbreviated form, beginning at Fourth Street, running north on Main Street, turning right on Ninth Street and ending at Central Park.
It will follow the same route this year, beginning on Monday, May 30 at 10 a.m.
Due to safety requirements, every corner of a parade route in Honesdale needs to have a state-certified traffic controller, or flagger, according to Pachuta. A dozen locals have received their certification from the state and will be volunteering at this year’s parade. However, to return to the original route that includes both North Main Street and the entire downtown area, Pachuta said she would need a total of up to 36 flaggers.
“I could not find a quote less than $5,000 to bring [another dozen] non-local flaggers into our area for the parade for four hours,” she said. “I and the VFW considered fundraising the $5,000… but if we’re going to invest time and energy in a fundraising campaign, we all agreed that we would rather donate that money directly to veterans, rather than to just a one-hour parade.”
Using this alternate route also creates less traffic congestion, Pachuta said, because emergency vehicles can bypass it more efficiently, fewer major intersections are blocked and tractor-trailers do not need to stop completely.
“[With this new route], the intersection by Wayne Hotel doesn’t get touched, with the parade being so far down Main Street,” Pachuta said. “So people can still turn onto Main Street and then they can turn up Chapel Street, go around, and get to Route 191; it’s very efficient from a traffic-flow standpoint.”
In previous years, truck drivers attempting to pass through Honesdale on Memorial Day would have no choice but to pull over and wait for the parade to end. Pachuta said that the parade could last up to an hour and a half. With the shorter route in place, truckers can at least travel north through Honesdale, because Church Street remains open.
In the future, Pachuta hopes she can work with local officials, as well as other parade planners, to make the permit process clearer and easier.
“How can we make this process more efficient?” she asked. “Right now, the parade committees are so separate. We could really work together and build a resource list of state traffic controllers who are willing to volunteer… There just needs to be more people involved who want to get it done.”
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