Business owners pleased by city’s revision of parade routes

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 31, 2003

NATCHEZ &045; Changes to the city’s preferred parade route have some downtown business owners cheering.

&uot;That sounds great to me,&uot; said Darrell Smith of Dixie Furniture, who has complained in the past that patrons can’t get to his Franklin Street store when parades are held during business hours.

The new parade routes were developed by Alderman David Massey, Police Chief Mike Mullins, City Planner Robert Jackson and Natchez Downtown Development Director Tammi Mullins.

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The preferred route calls for parades to stick mainly to Canal and Broadway streets, avoiding much of the downtown business district. An alternate route would use two blocks of Franklin and Main streets east of Canal.

Massey said he wanted to develop new routes after hearing so many complaints from business owners.

&uot;On a business day it just shuts them down totally,&uot; Massey said. &uot;We need a parade route that affects the fewest people.&uot;

Alderman Theodore &uot;Bubber&uot; West asked if exceptions could be made for parades that end with a program at a particular plans, such as the Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade &045; which, of course, uses Martin Luther King Drive for part of its route.

The aldermen &045; who probably won’t formally adopt the parade routes but will use them as policy &045; said exceptions could be made.

Alderwoman Joyce Arceneaux was wary of making too many distinctions, though.

&uot;I don’t want a black area for black parades and a white area for white parades,&uot; she said.

For the most part, the parade routes would affect the two Mardi Gras parades and the Christmas parade &045; which had already been moved to Sundays because of complaints from business owners. Massey said the new routes aren’t &uot;etched in stone forever.&uot;

Mayor F.L. &uot;Hank&uot; Smith asked why parades could not be scheduled outside business hours. West said holding all of the parades at night would be difficult because so many children would be on the street at night.

And Chief Mullins pointed out that the new routes are more cost-effective for the police department &045; he can work the route with half as many officers as the current route.

NDDA’s Tammi Mullins said she likes the new routes.

&uot;We’re all going to have to give a little,&uot; she said. &uot;(The parades) are still downtown.&uot;

At Cock of the Walk restaurant, Patricia Clark’s business is almost always affected no matter where the parade starts because the area is used as a staging area for floats. Clark said she has simply learned to live with it, asking employees to come in early so that they can get to work, for example.

&uot;Our parades are part of city life,&uot; she said. &uot;I just try to stay on the positive side.&uot;