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Police Warn of Major Traffic Changes In Prep for Commander Christmas

Tens of thousands of people are expected to attend and roadways are expected to be packed with tourists and fans.
MONROE -- It's expected to be one of the biggest events ever held in the twin cities - this weekend's Commander Christmas. Tens of thousands of people are expected to attend and roadways are expected to be packed with tourists and fans.

It will be a Very Merry Commander Christmas this Saturday, but police say not without a traffic nightmare.

"We're talking about something that has the potential to double or triple anything we've ever seen before," said Sgt. Mark Johnson with the Monroe Police Department.

Police say the event in downtown, along with a Christmas Flotilla, will make commuting very difficult.

"Saturday, there will not be any parking any where close around here," said Johnson.

Starting 6 p.m. Saturday, Desiard and South Grand will be closed to all south bound traffic.  South Grand and Bry will be closed to all north bound traffic.  This is the area directly in front of the River Walk area and parish Court house.  St. John Street from Desiard St. to Bry St. will also be closed.  Access to Wood St. and South Grand, Grammont St. and South Grand, along with Calypso and South Grand will not be allowed.  

"All of these parking lots the courthouse here at the riverwalk, all vehicles have to be moved by  that time because the event will be setting up," Johnson said.

 Access to Jackson St. will not be impeded to allow routes to St. Francis hospital and parking garage.  Starting at 6 p.m. on Friday to midnight on Saturday, no vehicles will be allowed to park on the roadways in the above listed areas. 

"Any vehicles not moved by 6 p.m. Friday are subject to being towed," said Johnson. "Because when that event starts on Saturday, this is a pedestrian only zone. People probably trying to come in with RVs on Friday night, setting up an RV thinking...'Hey I got my party spot, I'm ready for all day Saturday...That's not gonna be allowed."

Police are expecting upwards of 30,000 to 40,000 people from across the region to flock to downtown Monroe.

"There are not 30 to 40 thousand parking places in downtown Monroe," added Johnson.

Police say you'll have to park elsewhere in the city, like ULM, Forsythe Park, and the Monroe Civic Center.

"Everywhere in Monroe is going to be used as parking locations," said Johnson. "City buses and shuttles will be picking people up, even if its at ULM, and driving them to this venue."
Commander Christmas organizers are planning live music...A laser show...Flotilla on the river...And a duck derby.

Probably about 10,000 ducks off of the Endom bridge....And they're going to race down, from the bridge right here down to the Rivermarket," said Matt West, part of the Commander Christmas planning board. "I don't know if anybody from around here has seen a laser show, but it's a big deal. This group is coming in from New York. On a goodnight, you can see the lasers from about five miles away.

They're already meeting with local police to prepare for the crowds.

"So far this is probably the largest crowd we've ever anticipated for a single event," said West.

Monroe police is sending a third of their department, roughly 50 cops, for added security.

"Lock your vehicles, hide your stuff, put it in the trunk, cover things up," said Johnson. "Plan the route accordingly, be patient."

Police advise visitors to travel lightly, be prepared for rainy weather, and wear comfortable shoes.

Click here for more information on events and parking.
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