The Pueblo West View

Metro tackles record crowds, plans for 2014

With the popularity of the annual wet/dry Fourth of July parade continually growing, Pueblo West Metropolitan District employees know next year’s events will require more planning and involvement to continue the success.

The parade is extremely popular – drawing record crowds this year – and has become somewhat of a “signature event,” said Pueblo West Metropolitan District Manager Jack Johnston.

Johnston gave a report to the Pueblo West Metropolitan District Board of Directors during the July 16 meeting about all the Fourth of July festivities, noting the success.

“Every community has some kind of event that defines it, and Pueblo West has a probably nationally-unique element with this parade,” he said.

“Our estimates are between 20,000-30,000 people attended — probably around 25,000 — which is historically the largest crowd we’ve ever had.”

Johnston said that although the big numbers, popularity and exposure for Pueblo West are great, resources were “stretched” this year and he already knows preplanning and assistance during the event next year will have to change.

“We had significant pre-staging this year,” he said.

“Two years ago you could come that morning and get a good placement on the parade route.

“This year, you needed to be 12 to 18 hours early. We had a few mobile homes and some individuals camping out overnight.

“We’re seeing this evolve — certainly — and our pre-staging and traffic and crowd control efforts need to evolve with it.”

Johnston said District employees, as well as officers from both the Sheriff Department and Colorado State Patrol spent a lot of time preparing for the parade and said it was “time well spent,” as there were very little problems.

“The people who came at the same time they did last year found that it wasn’t early enough, so you know next year they’ll be even earlier,” Johnston said.

Pueblo West Metropolitan District board member Mike French said he thought the Fourth of July activities “went very well. People are obviously catching onto the fact that they need to be there early to get a good spot, and I thought that staff stepped up as usual to make it great. I want to commend the staff on their hard work.”

Johnston said the District did field a few phone calls from residents along Joe Martinez Boulevard who were concerned about a few people camping out in the street overnight to reserve spots for the parade, so further coordination with the Sheriff Department will be needed next year to address those issues.

In addition to the parade, Johnston noted that the fireworks display was “very successful.”

It was nearly 30 minutes of fireworks, compared to about 10 minutes at the Riverwalk in downtown Pueblo.

Johnson said streets were packed with not only Pueblo West residents, but from Pueblo and other areas, as well.

“All in all, I think it was a great day,” Johnston said.

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