By the Swamp Cabbage Festival Committee
For over 50 years, residents and tourists alike have flocked to our small town to watch floats covered in cabbage fronds travel down Bridge Street while listening to our home town bands play their marching tunes. It is a valued tradition that has grown to include entries from all over Hendry and the surrounding areas. In 2017, the Parade was broadcast on our Facebook page and it received over 5,000 views and was even watched from as far away as England.
Although the parade has grown over the past few decades, our little town has not been able to keep up with the demands the parade requires. From people walking in the street to the parade entries stopping on Main Street to unload passengers, the parade is becoming a less-than-pleasant experience for many.
Watching our live broadcast as well as other videos posted of the parade over the past few years has really led us to some heavy conversations and debates regarding the parade and its impact on the City. Several areas of concern have been identified and possible solutions were discussed. The parade is often brought to a stand still due to problems on Main Street halting its flow and entries trying to exit onto main highways. The overall biggest issue identified is the number of people who decide to exit the viewing areas and enter the parade route on their way to Barron Park. The lack of visibility of the entries by those sitting on the sidewalks and the overall safety of the entries from the crowds of people walking next to them has led us to have these conversations.
For these reasons, we have decided to flip the parade direction this year. Instead of starting on Bridge Street and winding down Park Ave towards Main Street, the parade will start on Main Street make its way along Park Avenue and proceed down Bridge Street. The route will continue to remain the same. The parade will cross Highway 80 on Bridge Street between the Hendry County Courthouse and LaBelle Chamber of Commerce and end where it has previously began.
There will be a few streets in downtown LaBelle that may experience some road closures or partial closings due to the new staging area, Fraser Street being one of them. Access to alternative roads will be available and we would like to ensure those living in that area that all measures will be taken to accommodate their needs during the hours of 8 a.m. – 10 a.m.
More information is available on our website, www.labelleswampcabbagefestival.org should you have any further questions.