Police: bring supplies to Heat parade, leave backpacks home
MIAMI (WSVN) -- At Monday's Parade of Champions in Downtown Miami, water containers and sunscreen are strongly encouraged but bringing a backpack will cause police to ask you to leave.
That is the message local law enforcement officials and organizers of the celebratory event want to send to the tens of thousands of Miami Heat fans expected to descend on the streets leading up to the American Airlines Arena to catch a glimpse of their favorite basketball players.
Miami Heat fans had already begun lining up across from the American Airlines Arena around 7 a.m. Monday. The double-decker buses were in place and road closures began around 8 a.m. beginning with Biscayne Boulevard. All other roads were closed by 9 a.m. As the parade passes, the road will reopen for traffic behind it.
Traffic on Interstate 95 southbound was backed up for miles approaching the exit to Biscayne Boulevard and Downtown Miami. Officials encouraged drivers to seek alternate routes, such as Northwest Seventh Avenue.
Barricades are already in place along the route, including outside the AAA. Miami Police will enforce stricter security than in previous parades. "They must not wear any backpacks," said Reyes. "No big packs will be allowed."
Over at the InterContinental Hotel, staff members are pulling out their restaurant's pots and pans to greet the slow-moving procession. "At the front of the hotel, [we're going to] make lots of noise," said Robert Hill, the hotel's general manager. "This is kind of what Miami is all about."
Young Heat fan Joey Ambrefe expressed a common sentiment when asked what part of the parade he would prefer to witness firsthand. "I want to see the end, mostly the end," he said.
Parade organizers said, however, that there will be plenty of sidewalk space along the entire route to find a good spot. "Everybody wants to be near the Arena, but it obviously tends to be the most packed [area]," said AAA General Manager Kim Stone. "There's plenty of space along the route. I would just encourage people to spread themselves out a little bit more."
The Parade of Champions will launch Monday at 11 a.m. sharp, from the intersection of Southwest Eighth Street and Second Avenue. The parade will head east on Southwest Eighth Street through Brickell, make the turn onto Biscayne Boulevard and head north to the American Airlines Arena.
Miami Police spokesperson Kenia Reyes suggested picking viewing spots wisely. "Whichever vantage point you have through the parade is what you're going to see at the very end as well," she said.
Authorities also recommended that revelers arrive early, a piece of advice Heat fan Junell Brown plans to follow. "I'm thinking that we're going to come very early because we need to get parking, and we want to be a part of it," she said.
Miami Fire Rescue Lt. Ignatius Carroll advised people planning to attend the event to remain vigilant. "Be aware of your surroundings," he said. "A lot of people have [voiced] safety concerns from the situation from Boston to what we're dealing with now. We want people to be our eyes and ears. If you see something suspicious or out of the ordinary, definitely contact the police of the fire department."
Organizers suggested making a checklist of items everyone should bring with them to the parade. Sunblock, as well as hats, umbrellas and rain gear, are strongly encouraged, as well as water and snacks.
Unlike previous years, fans will not have an opportunity to go inside the AAA in the hopes of greeting the Miami Heat players in person. The celebration at the venue where LeBron James and the rest of the team defeated the San Antonio Spurs Thursday night will be a private event accessible by invitation only.
"Once [the parade] culminates at the American Airlines Arena, there will be no festivities outside, and the parade will not be televised on the [Jumbotron screen]," Reyes said.
For transit information to attend the Parade of Champions, go to http://www.wsvn.com/news/articles/local/21010954762245/miami-dade-transit-enhances-service-for-miami-heat-parade/ and http://www.wsvn.com/news/articles/local/21010954744952/take-the-train-to-the-heat-parade/.
(Copyright 2013 by Sunbeam Television Corp. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)