Crowds watch the parade

Hundreds line Main Street to view the different floats, riders, walkers and much more in the Blowing Rock Independence Day Parade in July 2018.

BLOWING ROCK – The Fourth of July and Christmas parades in Blowing Rock will now start at 10 a.m. instead of 2 p.m., and no parking on downtown stretches of Main Street will be allowed prior to the parades as unanimously approved by the Blowing Rock Town Council on Tuesday, Feb. 11.

The vote came after a brief presentation by Blowing Rock Parks and Recreation Director Jen Brown.

Brown noted that in a survey sent to Main Street businesses, 61 percent of respondents preferred a 10 a.m. parade to 2 p.m., with those in favor saying it would help business.

Respondents to the survey against the 10 a.m. time said they would prefer 11 a.m. or 12 p.m., with some bringing up the potential impact for local hoteliers of guests checking out in the morning.

The changes will go into effect starting with the Fourth of July parade on Saturday, July 4, and continue with the Christmas parade, slated for Saturday, Nov. 28.

The idea of banning parking on the designated parking spaces along Main Street in downtown was a staff recommendation, Brown said. In January, concerns were expressed parked cars blocking the view for many people, thus narrowing the parade route with people crowding in front of the cars to get better views.

Brown explained that parade days are busier than ever, with the 2019 edition of fourth of July bringing in more than 30,000 people to town and the 2019 Christmas parade likewise bringing in more than 20,000.

Brown noted that the Blowing Rock Shriners Parade on Saturday, June 6, would still take place at 2 p.m.

Blowing Rock Police Chief Aaron Miller said after the meeting that the plan is to close Main Street parking around 4-5 a.m. on parade days, noting that there’s usually only one or two cars parked on the street at that time.

Brown and Miller both stressed that they will communicate the parade changes through notices in town, through social media and other communication mediums.

Councilperson Doug Matheson explained that the town is working on satellite parking for the parade, and is speaking with AppalCART on having shuttles for parade-goers before and afterward.

In other news from the meeting, the Bass Lake Sidewalk project along U.S. 221 will have shovels in the ground likely by mid-March, as explained by Doug Chapman of McGill and Associates, who acts on behalf of the town for engineering services.

The project to place a sidewalk on the north side of U.S. 221 going from Main Street to the Bass Lake entrance has been a slow one due to the difficulty in getting land easements, as previously explained.

The project will start at the intersection of U.S. 221 and Main Street, Chapman said, and hope to finish in the area by the end of May as seasonal residents start to arrive. The work will include a crosswalk across U.S. 221 at the intersection from The Speckled Trout to Mellow Mushroom.

Further down U.S. 221, there will be a retaining wall constructed as part of the project, as well as drainage, curb and gutter and as Chapman explained, will preclude people from parking on the side of the road.

The bike lanes in place along the north side of U.S. 221 will remain, Chapman confirmed.

Country Boy Landscaping of the town of Harmony in Iredell County were the low bid on the Bass Lake Sidewalk project, $976,959, which was unanimously approved by the town council.

Chapman explained that the town has $980,000 in an Eastern Federal Lands Access Program grant as well as $242,000 from phase four issuance of the 2014 General Obligation Bonds for the project.

The entire project is slated to be completed by October, Chapman said.

In other news from the meeting

  • The town council voted for and approved its new board appointments. Wes Carter, Bill McCarter and Pate Page were appointed to the planning board; Lance Campbell and Jerry Starnes were named to the board of adjustment with Jim Steele and Sarah Murphy as alternates; Susie Green was re-appointed to the ABC board; Tim Gupton was named to the Blowing Rock Tourism Development Authority board; and Melissa Pickett was re-appointed to the Blowing Rock Appearance Advisory Committee.
  • The Blowing Rock Board of Adjustment and Blowing Rock Planning Board meetings on Feb. 19 and 20, respectively, will take place at the American Legion Hall, due to early voting going on at town hall from Feb. 13-29.
  • Blowing Rock Town Manager Shane Fox said that the town has reached out to a firm to develop a scope of study for Green Hill Road. Previously, residents of the road approached council members asking them to do something about the speeders that use the road to cut from the Blue Ridge Parkway to U.S. 321.
  • The Blowing Rock Shriners Parade will take place Saturday, June 6, starting at 2 p.m.
  • Robert Hess spoke in favor of adding pickleball courts in town, saying they would be an economic driver.
  • Take Heart Owner Sheri Furman wrote a letter to Fox, which he read during the meeting, thanking everyone for their support after he shop caught fire last summer.
  • Sunny Side Day Care Center received unanimous approval to expand its capacity from 30 to 40 children, amending its conditional-use permit.

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