City Council approves road closures for Tractor Parade festivities

Chris Turkovich of Turkovich Family Wines finish up the 2019 parade with a grand finale, a hot air balloon burner pulled by a modern tractor.

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Winters City Council voted to approve road closures on Main Street, Railroad Street, Grant Avenue, Valley Oak Drive and Abbey Street on the weekend of Dec. 2–3 in regard to the holiday festival events and activities planned.

City Manager Kathleen Salguero Trepa gave a brief update on the planning of the events of the holiday weekend as well as changes made compared to last year’s event.

Previously, the two events occurred on the same day, but in 2020 the risk of COVID spreading prompted event officials to split the two events to reduce congestion and, “make for a safer event so people didn’t crowd into the downtown area,” Trepa said. The City Council staff report for this recommendation stated having the two events separated was, “very successful and allowed for better crowd management,” and said during the meeting the measure was, “hugely successful in terms of managing crowd size.” Thus, Trepa recommended the City Council continue this practice.

But, Trepa noted that splitting the events into two days meant, “two nights of pretty intensive activities,” and to address the effect of these activities on Winters’ traffic, she recommended some changes to the events’ organization, including road closures.

A major change to the events is that the Winters District Chamber of Commerce Board will no longer be organizing the events — instead, it will be up to the city. Trepa then said because the city’s staff, “did not have the capacity or bandwidth,” to organize the event on their own, the City hired a professional event coordinator who has been organizing the holiday events thus far.

Trepa continued that goals for this year’s festivals included organizing, “an event that can pay for itself,” as well as finding a way to, “manage the sheer number of people that come into town for the Tractor Parade.” Last year’s parade, she said, brought in around 10,000 people, and there were reports of I-505 being severely congested. 

To this latter end, the City hoped that by expanding activities over multiple days and encouraging people to stay longer, it may, “help spread out the traffic.” 

Trepa shared an explanation of the traffic difficulties the City encountered during last year’s events, including at Railroad Avenue and Main Street.

“I was one of the volunteers who helped to control traffic at that intersection,” Trepa said. “And there was so much traffic, and the potential for pedestrian-vehicles conflicts was significant enough that this year we’re recommending that the street be closed…for safety.” Closing this intersection during the events will, “allow everyone to circulate through downtown…and creates a detour around Abbey and Russell street, and would only be for the peak time for the Friday night activities.”

Road closures
Friday, Dec. 2 road closures include:

  • Rotary Park driveway to Second Street from Noon to 10 p.m.
  • Railroad Avenue at Main Street intersection from 3–10 p.m. (or sooner if crowds lessen)

Trepa said the Railroad Avenue at Main Street intersection would open up before 10 p.m. “as soon as the police chief feels it’s safe to open up, we can open up the intersection, and the road would open no later than 10 p.m.,” to give vendors time to clean up. 

Saturday, Dec. 3 road closures include:

  • Rotary Park driveway to Second Street from Noon to 11 p.m.
  • Railroad Avenue at Main Street intersection from 4–11 p.m.
  • Second Street to Haven Street from 2–10 p.m.
  • Haven Street to Grant Avenue from 3–8 p.m.
  • Rotary Park Driveway to E. Baker Street from 3–11 p.m.
  • Fourth Street at Main Street intersection from 5:45–8 p.m. (Open for cross-town traffic except as the parade entries pass through the area)

Trepa said the City will provide a map with the locations of appropriate parking zones that will be hung up around Nov. 30, and local businesses will be informed of the route.

The goal to spread out the logistical support, portable toilets, food trucks and event activities along the route is to prevent people from jamming downtown. Trepa said, “they can see the parade equally from any location along the entire route, and it will help thin out some of the crowding that was downtown.”

Along with this, the city is looking to provide exit maps so the exit route east down Grant Avenue towards I-505 isn’t overcrowded.

Councilmember Jesse Loren was absent, and Councilmember Harold Andersen recused himself as he lived on the route and felt it would be a conflict of interest. Nonetheless, the recommendation passed with three affirmations from Cowan, Biasi and Councilmember Pierre Neu.

Details and maps about the event road closures and parade routes are available online at
winterstractorparade.com.

Check the “Entertainment” tab for a full listing of the schedule of activities for Friday, Dec. 2 and Saturday, Dec. 3.

View the Winters Event Street Closure Map here

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