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November 20, 2012

Tragic safety reminder

NORMAN — The tragic accident involving a Veterans Day parade float and a 67-mile-per-hour freight train in Midland, Texas, this past week makes us even more aware of the trains passing through downtown Norman during parades.

Two annual parades — the 89er Day parade in the spring and the Christmas parade in December — cross the tracks on Main Street. Organizers, working with Norman police, coordinate with the railroad to hold trains from coming through during the parade.

Christmas parade chairman Ed Copelin said the tragedy in Midland weighs heavily on the organizers. He is appreciative of the monumental effort that goes into the planning by the police and the railroad. Only once in his memory did an approaching train cause the parade to stop clear the tracks.

In Midland, four wounded veterans who were on the float hit by the train were killed and 16 others were injured. The parade was to start a weekend of banquets, shopping and deer hunting to honor veterans. Local parades have changed routes in previous years. One year, the parade began at Sooner Mall and ended at Norman High. That might be an option for organizers to consider as more details come out about the Texas tragedy.

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