The public is being urged to think ahead when attending the Winterval Launch this coming Friday. Over 10,000 spectators are expected to take to the streets of Waterford for the arrival of Santa and the turning on of the Christmas lights this Friday.
Concerns around safety were raised regarding last year's event at a recent sitting of Waterford City and County Council.
Executive technician Finn Brophy addressed the plenary meeting last week regarding traffic management strategies and other backup plans for the event, which is anticipated to draw approximately 500,000 attendees.
Speaking to WLR News, Garda David Browne from Waterford Garda Station says some issues are to be expected.
"It's for five or six weeks, the largest event of its type in the country, so there are going to be issues,
"As we mentioned, the expectation is over half a million people over the five week period, so hopefully people in general can see the benefits outweigh the negatives particularly when it comes to traffic.
"It's kicking off this Friday. We have Santa coming Friday afternoon with the parade starting at 5:00 P:M, as well as the lights being turned on in the city at 6:00 P:M .
"I think the most important thing really is for anybody who is using the roads, keep up to date with the Winterval website.
"The major road closures are going to be from 9:00 P: M on a Thursday starting on the 16th of November, and really they fall in over a Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday period for the remainder of the festival, with the roads opening back up every Sunday from 10:00 P: M.
"Obviously this Friday there will be an exceptional amount of traffic on the Quays from 4:30 and 5:30 with over 10,000 people expected to come to town this Friday. It's all very positive, Santa is coming, so there will be a lot of young families and children and it is a great chance and for anybody that is concerned about it, there are traffic plans in place.
"This is to showcase the city and what we're all about."
The directors of Winterval are pushing as many people as they can to take public transportation to go to the city center, where 200 parking spots will be occupied by attractions. For those who absolutely must drive, additional parking has been set up.
The following areas are now dedicated to parking where ample public transport is available.
- 275 new spaces at the Old Brooks Site
- 200 at the newly opened upper floors of The Glen multi-story carpark
- 300 free-of-charge ones at the RSC which will be used as a park-and-ride facility with local taxi company Rapid Cabs doing a special rate until 9 pm.
Councillor Joe Kelly raised the issue of crowd control at last years Winterval launch at a recent plenary meeting of Waterford City and County Council.
He says he witnessed wheelchair users and children in buggies being distressed, as well as barriers being breached.
Executive Technician with the council Finn Brophy, says that a vulnerable area was set up for wheelchair users, but some chose not to use it to get closer to the attraction itself. He also confirmed the same facility will be provided this year near Hallmark Jewelers, and that a more robust barrier system will be in place.
See winterval.ie for all your festive info.
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