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Sunday, January 20 , 2019, 7:41 am | Fair 47º


Santa Maria Working to Lessen Traffic Impacts from Christmas Parade, Championship Football Game

The Santa Maria Christmas Parade of Lights and Santa Maria High School championship football game could cause a combined traffic nightmare in the city on Saturday, but some steps have been taken to ease expected congestion.

Santa Maria High School reached the CIF Division 12 championships — and the right to host the game at home — by handily besting South El Monte 35-14 on Friday night.

The championship game against Big Bear High School is planned for 7:45 p.m. Saturday at the Saints home field, Santa Maria Joint Union High School District officials confirmed Monday.

But Saturday also is the city's Parade of Lights, beginning at 5:20 p.m., with several road closures set to restrict access to the high school’s stadium.

The parade-related closures mean reaching the stadium could be tricky with travelers needing to go to South Depot Street, then to West Morrison Avenue to access stadium parking off Thornburg Street. 

Initially, officials announced the game start time as 7 p.m., but later pushed it back 45 minutes to lessen traffic impacts.

City, school and parade representatives met Monday to craft a game plan to ensure both events occur smoothly.

“We’re figuring out the logistics,” city spokesman Mark van de Kamp said.

Parade Chairman Mike Gibson said the game’s delayed start should help ease conflicts between the two events. 

“I think it’s doable,” Gibson added. 

The Parade of Lights, organized by the Rotary Clubs of Santa Maria Valley and Nipomo, typically lasts two hours. 

One option reportedly floated, and rejected, called for holding the football at Pioneer Valley High School to remove any parade conflicts. 

It has been nearly three decades since a Santa Maria High School football team last played in a CIF championship game.

Additional police officers will be positioned in the area to assist with traffic around the high school and parade.

Football game parking will be available at the high school along with the nearby Santa Maria Fairpark.

Stowell Road, which runs along the southern edge of the stadium, will be closed at 3 p.m. between Broadway and Depot Street since several blocks of the street are used as a staging area for the approximately 100 parade entries. 

South Broadway between Enos Drive and Main Street also will be closed, starting at 4 p.m., due to the parade. 

The parade starts at 5:20 p.m. and travels north on Broadway to end near the Santa Maria Town Center. 

Adding another concern for parade planners is the chance of rain in the forecast for Saturday. However, light rain won't cancel the parade.

At the end of the parade route, a Festival of Lights is planned from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Santa Maria Town Center West parking lot, with music, food, beverages and kids’ events planned.  

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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