HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - The Hattiesburg City Council tabled a new parade ordinance for the city until its next meeting to make changes with HPD Assistant Chief Frank Misenhelter.
The updated ordinance sets new rules for safety of riders and walkers, what can and cannot be thrown from a parade float and what kind of vehicles can be included in the parade.
"You have to know who's driving," Mayor Johnny DuPree said. "You've got to know what they're throwing. I mean, there's a lot. This is not just somebody coming in saying 'I want a permit' and somebody signs off on it now."
Council members Carter Carroll, Kim Bradley and Mary Dryden said Monday during an agenda setting meeting the update was much needed, and while the ordinance may need some small tweaking, they said they generally thought the new ordinance was well thought out.
"All in all, this is a good piece of work," Carroll said. "It needed to be upgraded. Who knows the last time that thing had be looked at."
One of the biggest safety changes in the new ordinance is the requirement of any organization sponsoring a float to provide two parade marshals, one for each side of the float, to walk with the float and "use two hands to carry a six-foot long PVC pipe, holding it forward in a horizontal position, the entire parade route so as clear a path for the float or vehicle and thus help to protect children and other observers from injury."
"You know, especially now with the children running and in and out, we can't have that," Hattiesburg Police Department Assistant Chief Frank Misenhelter said. "And we don't have enough barricades to effectively immobilize that entire parade route."
DuPree and Bradley said they would like to see those marshals required for floats with throws, but said they do not think that kind of security is needed for any floats or cars without throws.
Dryden also had some concerns about all animals being prohibited from parades, and asked Misenhelter if he thought an exception could be made for something like dogs riding on a float sponsored by an animal shelter. Misenhelter said he thought wording could be changed to fit that need.
The council also applauded Misenhelter and HPD for using breathalyzer tests on all float drivers ahead of the 2016 Hattiesburg Mardi Gras parade.
"I think that's awesome," Bradley said. "I didn't know that y'all did that. Trying to make the thing as safe as it can be, and I think that's great."
Carroll said, "I thought that was amazing."
Dryden said, "It is (amazing). Very thorough."