City reviews security in advance of Bloom

Posted: April 25, 2013

The Winchester Star

WINCHESTER — City officials announced security plans and safety tips Wednesday in preparation for the primary weekend of the 86th Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival.

“We, again this year, are asking the public to be aware and to be vigilant,” Capt. Doug Watson of the Winchester Police Department said during a news conference at the Timbrook Public Safety Building.

He encouraged residents to keep their belongings with them and to leave bags and coolers at home. Items left unattended will be confiscated.

Watson said the department will be assisted by a number of agencies in providing security for the festival, including the Virginia Defense Force, the Winchester and Frederick County sheriff’s offices, the Northwestern Regional Adult Detention Center and the FBI.

Despite last week’s tragedy in Boston, where two bombs killed three people and injured more than 260, Watson said there won’t be any heightened security from years past.

“We’ve been working every year since (the World Trade Center bombings in) 2001 to prevent that already,” he said.

Scott Kensinger, Winchester Fire and Rescue Department deputy chief of operations, outlined tips for people to stay safe and enjoy the Bloom, the attendance for which could reach 200,000.

He said one focus this year is preventing the overloading of decks and balconies, and encouraged residents to avoid crowding them.

Wearing sunscreen, planning driving routes and drinking responsibly were other topics he brushed.

“If you do have to drive around congested areas, we ask that you be aware of pedestrians,” he said.

Watson reminded parents to carry a picture of their children with them and to take note of what they are wearing in the event that they get separated.

The emergency medical aid station will be at the corner of Gerrard and Cameron streets and will be operational during both the May 3 Firefighters’ Parade and May 4 Grand Feature Parade. Emergency medical support units also will be spaced along the parade routes.

Animals are prohibited from the downtown area both for the wine festival this weekend and next weekend. Restricted areas include north of Cork Street, south of Fairfax Lane, east of Braddock Street and west of Cameron Street.

Tom Denney with Winchester Public Works said that in addition to signage throughout the city, 300 to 350 street barricades and between 1,700 and 1,900 trash boxes will be set up for the festival.

To control traffic and keep the parade route clear, Millwood Avenue at Pleasant Valley Road will be closed to all westbound traffic beginning at 4 p.m. May 3 until the Firefighters’ Parade ends and starting at 1 p.m. May 4 until the Grand Feature Parade concludes.

All through traffic approaching the city is encouraged to use Interstate 81 and Va. 37 during those times.

Samantha Anderson, executive director of the Winchester Parking Authority, said that Apple Blossom officials will be handling parking at Braddock Autopark this year.

John Rosenburger, the festival’s executive director, said the cost to park will stay the same, but that passes must be purchased through the Apple Blossom headquarters at 135 N. Cameron St.

Parking at the Loudoun, Court Square and George Washington autoparks costs $10 for May 3 and $15 for May 4, Anderson said.

For anyone with questions regarding street closures, parking or detour routes, the Winchester Volunteers in Policing will be available by phone Thursday and Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday from 8 a.m. to noon. Call 540-545-4737 or 540-545-4738.

Watson strongly encouraged using those numbers as opposed to the non-emergency police number because of the number of calls expected.

“I wish everyone a happy and safe Apple Blossom,” he said.

For more information about road closures, detour maps, parking restrictions and all things public safety at the Bloom, visit winchesterva.gov.

— Contact Melissa Boughton at mboughton@winchesterstar.com