FAIRFIELD — Police Sgt. Mike Mitchell on July 4 will take time out from supervising traffic control for the downtown Independence Day parade to be an honored parade participant.
Mitchell typically watches the proceedings from his command center at Kentucky and Webster streets, with traffic issues on his mind. This year, he’ll be the parade’s grand marshal and will travel the course in a car waving at the crowds.
The Fairfield Main Street Association, which sponsors the parade, recently announced the honor.
“It was a surprise to me, but a nice one,” Mitchell said.
Traffic supervision for the parade presents several challenges. Some 25 officers and volunteers must close off streets with barricades, yet still allow downtown residents some sort of access to their homes. They must create a safe situation for the hundreds of residents coming to watch the parade. They must make certain that traffic patterns get back to normal when the event ends.
Mitchell for four years has supervised the operation for the parade and other special downtown events such as the Veterans Day parade. He expected more of the same July 4.
“I was just planning on working it like any other year, then they kind of sprung this on me,” Mitchell said.
He’ll still be in charge of the traffic operations, which involves several hours of work before and after the parade. He’ll just take time out when the parade begins to get in that car and serve as grand marshal.
“Sgt. Mitchell has been a tremendous help over the years,” Fairfield Main Street Association Executive Director Margaret Manzo said in a news release. “His support of downtown makes our parades run safely and smoothly.”
This will be Mitchell’s last year doing traffic supervision for the parade.
He will retire at the end of October after 23 years with the Fairfield Police Department and 30 years as a police officer.
But, with Independence Day parade grand marshal honors, he’ll be laying aside the traffic duties in style.
The Independence Day parade will begin at 10 a.m. July 4, with the reviewing stand along Texas Street near the Center for Creative Arts. The theme is “From Every Mountainside, Let Freedom Ring.”
June 20 is the deadline to submit parade entries. For more information, please go to http://www.fairfield mainstreet.com or call 422-0103.
Reach Barry Eberling at 425-4646, ext. 232, or beberling@ dailyrepublic.net.