Safety Notes: Be safe around the tracks

For decades, parade spectators and organizers didn’t have to worry about the train tracks that run through downtown Novato. They do now. With the Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit (SMART) trains running, everybody needs to be on
heir toes for safety’s sake.

SMART is running its weekend schedule on the Fourth of July. Only one train is expected to chug through the downtown area during the parade – a southbound train at 11:01 a.m., give or take. However, a northbound train is set to make an appearance at about 12:10 p.m., right after the parade is over and families are heading back home. “The main thing is that everyone stays off the tracks and the area near the tracks,” said Sgt. Nick Frey of the Novato Police Department. “The line is active, and we do not want anyone injured. This is especially important as Novato has quiet zone crossings.” Because of the parade’s special event permit, pets other than service animals are not allowed along the parade route. You read that right: Most dogs are not allowed at the parade. Many people attempt to bring their well-behaved non-service dogs with them, and it’s not really a day when officers and parade officials want to hold the hard line. However, those are the rules.

There are other points of safety worth emphasizing on parade day. Alcoholic beverages, smoking and vaping are not allowed near the parade. Chairs and blankets may not be placed on the street, and parents are urged not to let young children dart into the street during the parade – even if there are no apparent vehicles close by. Frey, who serves on the Fourth of July Parade committee, recommends that families find parking well before the 10 a.m. parade start time and respect any “no parade” parking signs. Anyone not attending the parade but planning on traveling downtown on the Fourth of July should expect to traffic delays because of road blocks on and around the parade route.