Organizing Parade Production: Planning for Holiday Festivities

Scenes of the Season: A Holiday Parade

There’s a lot to love about parades – especially during the holidays, when they kick off a seasonal whirl of nostalgia and goodwill in towns and cities around the world. But it’s not all marching bands and flurries of floats: Organizing parade production takes careful planning to manage risk.

Family watching a parade in a crowd at night

When Ralphie and his family wait for Santa to appear in their hometown parade in A Christmas Story, his mind is laser-focused on one shiny target: how to get the BB gun of his dreams. As the evening parade rolls by, the Parkers’ thoughts are as far removed from the careful planning parades demand from towns and cities as the North Pole is from Main Street. 

“Holiday parades are especially fun, but it takes time and considerable planning to ensure a safe community event while keeping community traditions alive and risks well managed,” says Bob Marinelli, risk control manager for Trident Public Risk Solutions.

Source: Illinois Office of Tourism

Public entities should take these first steps when organizing parade production: 

  • Develop a written plan.
  • Assign responsibilities and accountability.
  • Outline procedures.
  • Provide crowd control and security.
  • Determine liquor liability.
  • Verify event holder’s liability insurance meets minimum requirements.
  • Obtain certificates of insurance.
  • Seek input from law enforcement, the fire department and EMS.

Be sure to keep safety and security top of mind during the parade, Marinelli says.

“With so many people out celebrating, towns and cities must follow safety and security protocols for parades,” he says.

During the event:

  • Control traffic with barricades and police at intersections.
  • Use barricades to keep parade observers off curbs and streets.
  • Follow fire department occupancy limits for floats and trailers.
  • Use safety harnesses to secure float riders who are standing.
  • Keep children on floats safe with adult supervision, harnesses and check-in and check-out procedures and ID to confirm their parents/guardians.

Review insurance coverage

Before a parade or other special event, public entities should make sure their commercial general liability insurance coverage is sufficient to cover the full scope of the event. Learn more from Trident’s community event planning tips.

Learn more about Trident Public Risk Solutions.