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Police take a closer look at parade safety for Gatlinburg Christmas parade

Fantasy of Lights Parade is set for Dec. 3.
Published: Nov. 22, 2021 at 10:59 PM EST
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - After a deadly crash during a Wisconsin parade killed five and injured dozens more, people in East Tennessee are taking a closer look at safety.

In Gatlinburg, they’re gearing up for their 46th annual Fantasy of Lights Parade next Friday. The parade can draw anywhere up to 60,000 people and is one of the biggest in East Tennessee.

Police Chief Randall Brackins said when he saw the tragedy unfold in Wisconsin he thought, “Can it happen here? Can it happen to me? Can it happen to our city?”.

It’s a question that has now sparked some action as Brackins said he, along with other city leaders have scheduled meetings together to figure out the best ways to protect the community in the event of a crisis.

“There’s not a right answer, I don’t know what you do in that situation. You can have, if the guy is running people over, you could try and shoot him maybe that’s what they tried to do evidently. But of course, if you have your own car or a car nearby you just cut him off from trying to go any farther,” Brackins said.

Brackins said there hasn’t been any history of cars driving through Gatlinburg parades, and hopes that will continue this holiday season.

No protocols have changed for the time being in Gatlinburg, and Brackins said there will be the majority of his department out on the parade to help keep people safe. That will be at least 35 people, according to the chief.

The Fantasy of Light’s Parade is set for Dec. 3, and will start at 7:30 p.m.

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