OCEAN CITY – Expect a mix of holiday cheer and traffic delays this Saturday as the 25th Annual Christmas parade marches through uptown Ocean City along Coastal Highway.
A lull in traffic will be seen Saturday morning as the parade makes its way along Coastal Highway, taking up all four lanes of southbound traffic.
The parade, which will be held from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., will be utilizing all four lanes of traffic this year after concerns were voiced at a City Council meeting in October over the safety of the children. Several organizations, including the Board of Education, felt that having traffic move alongside the parade would be unsafe for children participating in the parade. Despite assurances from the Ocean City Police Department that it was more than safe, the City Council voted to have the parade utilize all four lanes to insure safety.
The parade will march northbound in the southbound lanes of Coastal Highway from 99th to 115th streets. As a result, all four southbound lanes from 94th Street to 130th Street will be closed beginning around 9 a.m.
As a result of the four-lane usage, southbound traffic will be channeled into one lane and then moved into the northbound lanes. Vehicles will travel in the northbound lanes, against oncoming traffic, until they are channeled back into the southbound lanes by police officers.
The police department has assured that the traffic flow would proceed smoothly. The parade operated in a similar fashion for years and only in recent years did the parade change to utilize only two lanes. This year the parade and traffic will return to the traditional route.
Captain Michael Colbert explained this week that nine additional officers would be present Saturday to help with the traffic flow and ensure safety. Colbert said that police would begin channeling and merging traffic around 120th Street, explaining that it takes about 300 feet to merge traffic. After another 300 feet, traffic will be merged again until all vehicles have been merged into one lane. Around the area of Jamestown Rd., traffic will be channeled into the northbound lanes. Traffic will be brought back into the southbound lanes around 100th Street.
Colbert assured the safety and efficiency of the traffic routes, but cautioned that traffic will be significantly slowed in that area Saturday. The traffic pattern changes are expected to remain changed until around 1 p.m.