Pacific Highway to close for parade

"Last September, Family Fest parade coordinator Hope Elder pleaded with the Federal Way City Council to support a more visible parade route.Someone listened. This year, for the first time, Pacific Highway will be closed between South 312th and 316th streets so the estimated 60 parade groups can walk or drive up the major thoroughfare before ending at Steel Lake Park.We have a problem, Elder told members at that Sept. 21 council meeting. Since 1997, when the first parade was held, it was relegated to back streets, meaning fewer people watched it, she said. Given that Family Fest is one of the city's biggest festivals, the parade should be on one of the busiest streets, she said.If they can shut down streets in Des Moines, in Kent, in Seattle ... Elder told the council. The only place you can't do anything like that is Federal Way. I think that's ridiculous. To limit us to a back street is unfair.For the past three years, the parade route has gone up 20th Avenue South or 23rd Avenue South before turning onto 312th Street and ending up at Steel Lake Park. This year, the staging area will be in a field near Pavilions Centre. The parade will turn north onto Pacific Highway South from 316th Street and then turn east onto 312th Street, said Mary Ehlis, Family Fest's top coordinator.Besides a new route, this year's parade also will feature the first community float. Jet Chevrolet has provided a flatbed truck, Home Depot will provide the float structure and Joann Fabrics etc. employees will help Family Fest volunteers decorate it. The theme is Remember When.The parade starts at 10 a.m. and will probably last about an hour, Ehlis said. The Pacific Highway segment will be closed from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m., Elder said. I am very sensitive to the fact the businesses there will have to put up with us, Elder said, but I think it's outstanding how many have been supportive of us.In fact, city spokesman Derek Matheson praises Family Fest volunteers for talking with representatives of all the businesses affected by the street closure. Some including Joann Fabrics etc., even are helping with the parade. Ehlis attributes the new parade route to the efforts of Public Works Director Cary Roe and new City Manager David Moseley, who took over last year from Ken Nyberg.If it's truly going to be a community event, it needs to be visible, Ehlis said. It's a major community and a lot of people are involved. Therefore we should make a big splash and get as many people in as possible, in the parade, watching the parade.I think a lot of people have not been aware of it, she said. And it's painful when you shut down major roads. It's painful but when you shut down major roads, it's an attention-getter.As for Elder, she says she's thrilled to death that this year's parade will be more of an attention-getter. The fact we're closing Pacific Highway shows a total commitment for Family Fest, she said. Parade participants feel real good about that. One of the main reasons why Family Fest was formed is a sense of community. "

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