Bars protest parade route change |

Bars protest parade route change

Shannon Litz/R-C file photoClassic cars are lit up for the annual Parade of Lights. This year the parade is starting at Heritage Park.

Some of Gardnerville’s downtown bars plan to protest the change of the Parade of Lights by turning off their Christmas lights for the Christmas Kickoff and the Dec. 1 parade.

Last week, it was announced that the annual parade would start at Heritage Park instead of Lampe Park, where it started for many years.

On Tuesday, Douglas County commissioners approved an events permit that included the new route.

The former route entered Highway 395 at Waterloo Lane, then passed through the S-curve and old town before heading north into Minden.

The new route will bypass the first section of the parade and several town bars and restaurants, including Buckaroos and The French.

Buckaroos General Manager Steve Orlando said at least three downtown establishments will have petitions out and plan to protest the change in route by turning off their Christmas lights.

“We’re not happy about it,” he said of himself and owner Barbara Marchand. “It’s been a tradition forever. It’s one of our favorite nights of the year. It’s a time when everybody gets together and watches the parade.”

Orlando said he expects the movement of the parade route to affect the bar’s income that night.

“It’s a good night for the bar, and times are tough enough for us to survive without this,” he said. “It’s unfortunate that the town decided to do this. We can’t figure out why they’re doing it. It’s only two blocks.”

French Bar owner Renee Harrington wrote a letter to the editor, which appears on the opinion pages of today’s edition, protesting the action.

“Any business that is on Highway 395 south of Gilman will no longer have the parade passing in front of it,” she wrote. “This effectively removes most of the oldest buildings with some of the longest-running businesses in downtown Gardnerville from the parade route.”

Organizers for the Dec. 1 event said the new starting point will shorten the parade route, reducing exposure to the cold, and allow the Town of Gardnerville to showcase its holiday light display at the park.

Gardnerville Town Manager Tom Dallaire said he has been fielding phone calls about the decision.

“Nobody talked to them,” he said. “I can understand their frustration.”

He said the move was done to allow businesses that were previously blocked by the parade to open.

“We were trying to make it easy for everybody,” he said. “The Douglas bars are half a block away from the parade route.”

Under the current plan, Highway 395 will be closed at Douglas Avenue at the S-Curve.

He said parade participants are encouraged to go through Chichester Estates to get to Gilman Avenue where the floats will line up.

Dallaire said that if the plan to start at Heritage Park doesn’t work, they could try something else next year.

“I’m more than willing to work with them,” he said.