BRANDON — With a bit of tweaking by county officials, the new route for the Brandon Fourth of July parade has been set, and the Community Roundtable of Greater Brandon has applied for a county parade permit.
George May, president of the roundtable, which organizes the annual parade, said the county sent him a map of the newly approved parade route last week. It officially changes Brandon's parade route for the first time in more than 25 years.
May originally envisioned a parade marching down the scenic Brandon Parkway. In a March interview with the Times, he said he wanted the parade to start at Lumsden Road and the Brandon Parkway, wind around the Brandon Main Street site and end on Pauls Avenue.
But that would have meant staging the parade along Lumsden Road at the entrance to the parkway. County officials were willing to shut down the westbound lanes of Lumsden to stage the parade but wanted to keep the eastbound lanes open.
"It just seemed too dangerous with the speed of traffic on Lumsden," May said this week. "I didn't want to run the risk of someone in the parade crossing traffic on Lumsden."
So the county and roundtable agreed on a new route. The parade will be staged along the Brandon Parkway and will begin at the intersection of the parkway and Lakewood Drive. It will head north on Lakewood to Oakfield Drive, turn east on Oakfield and continue to S Kings Avenue. From Kings, the parade will turn north to Robertson Street, then head west on Robertson, ending in the Publix parking lot as it has in past years.
It wasn't the route May wanted. His idea was to end the parade near Westfield Brandon mall where the Brandon Community Foundation stages the Brandon Blast celebration and fireworks display.
"But we'll make do," he said. "We can't do this without the county. It's all about compromise to make changes. Next year, we may tweak it. It's new to us as it is to the community."
Last month, May also announced that the parade would move its start time from 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
"So far, I'm getting overwhelmingly positive response from the community," he said.
D'Ann White can be reached at email@example.com.