Bill Martin said.
"This is a whole new ballgame," he said.
Additional officers may have to be hired to redirect car traffic and
control beach crowds, he said. There is also concern that drunks could
disrupt the parade, which would have to travel past the bars on the first
two blocks of Main Street before resuming its traditional course through
residential streets, he said.
"We certainly have to have outside help," he said.
Last week, the city's Fourth of July committee recommended the new parade
route, which hasn't run along the highway since the 1930s, said Rich Barnard, the city's spokesman. The council is expected to consider the
plan at its meeting May 1, he said.
The current route follows Main Street from 6th to Clay streets, said
Naida Osline, the city's special events director. The recommended change
would have the parade begin at 8th Street and the highway, before turning
onto Main and continuing to Clay, she said. The highway would have to be
closed off from Goldenwest Street to Beach Boulevard from 6 a.m. to 2
p.m., she said.
With television broadcasting the event live, the city would highlight its
best feature by having the beach serve as a backdrop, committee member
Margie Bunten said.
"I think it's a great way to market Huntington Beach, to showcase the
ocean," she said.
But the city's troubled history on Independence Day convinced committee
member Maureen Rivers to vote against the change.
"It took our Police Department a long time to get things under control in
Downtown," she said. "This just might be a disruptive year."
The city has had difficulty controlling the celebration, which has drawn
as many as 250,000 people. In 1994, unruly mobs ran amok, jumping on
cars, breaking windows, burning furniture in the street and throwing
bottle rockets at police officers. By bringing in scores of extra law
enforcement, the city has managed to keep the rowdies largely under
But because the proposed route is so close to the bars, the city is also
considering prohibiting alcohol sales during the parade, which starts at
10 a.m. and lasts until about 1 p.m., Smith said. The 24-year veteran
said such a ban has never been implemented before.
"There has always been a traditional problem when things get hectic down
there," he said.
The greatest danger comes from bars with second-floor patios, he said.
Patrons may throw objects at the parade participants as they pass, he
said. That couldn't happen before.