Vin Mannix: Staying safe pre-eminent at big parade

April 21, 2013 

There weren't any chairs tied yet to the fences along Manatee Avenue West or the railings on the Manatee Avenue Bridge.

Those will start popping up by Wednesday.

Nor was there any savory smoke from all the parade parties that will be going on full blast outside the banks, insurance companies, law firms, doctors offices, realtors and hair salons.

I could smell the barbecue already.

I could also see the merry mob outside Smitty's and Shake Pit as the parade turns east, greeted raucously by thousands of revelers crowding the sidewalks flanking Manatee Avenue West, most of them imploring:

BEADS!

BEADS!

BEEEEEEADS!

But all was peaceful on Manatee Avenue West, even with traffic, a week before the annual De Soto Heritage Parade.

May it remain so this coming Saturday.

The tragedy that befell the Boston Marathon must be in the back of the minds of many around our community who plan to attend.

That includes law enforcement whose presence will be as evident as it has been in the past.

Ninety Manatee County Sheriff's Office deputies.

All of the Bradenton Police Department.

Their job at every past parade has been crowd control, protecting partiers from themselves and keeping an eye out for kids darting into the street to scoop up some brightly colored trinkets.

Now, due to the madness wrought on Boston's Boylston Street, our law enforcement must be alert to the possibility, however remote, of something similar occurring on Manatee Avenue West.

God forbid.

Their awareness has been heightened, a police official said.

The dynamics and environment of these two events are similar.

One is a revered race, more than a century old.

The other a rollicking parade that predates World War II.

The Boston Marathon may be a big time affair in a big city, but it is described as an intimate event because of the way Bostonians embrace it and its participants.

It shows Boston's heart.

The DeSoto Heritage Parade is a unique glimpse into Bradenton's soul, its perpetual small town feel despite our surrounding growth.

The high school bands.

The kids' floats.

The pageant queens.

The Little League teams.

The out-of-town krewes.

It's a mighty celebration, a slice of life in B'town.

Just like the marathon is a piece of Beantown's.

Year in and year out, the De Soto Heritage Parade has been a peaceful, safe and secure event.

Pray it stays that way.

Mannix About Manatee, by columnist Vin Mannix, is about people and issues in Manatee County. Call Vin at 941-745-7055. Twitter: @vinmannix.

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