The Clarksville Christmas parade will have its first designated quiet zone to help provide those with sensory sensitivities a better parade experience, an organizer said.
“The quiet zone is an all-inclusive spot,” said Heaven Farmer, with River Valley ABA services, is one of the organizers of the quiet zone, “It focuses on giving a parade experience to those with sensory sensitivities.”
While within the quiet zone vehicles participating in the parade are allowed to throw candy and have quieter Christmas music playing but are taking extra care to tone down other experiences, Farmer said.
“There won’t be any flashing lights or loud sirens. They aren’t going to rev their engines or honk their horns” Farmer said on Tuesday afternoon.
The parade is scheduled for Saturday at 5 p.m., Farmer said.
The quiet zone will begin at a stoplight at the corner of Crawford and Main Streets near the
Boomer BBQ parking lot and end at the Dairy Freeze parking lot on Main Street, one of the organizers said.
Farmer said River Valley ABA and M.A.C. industries will be running the quiet zone and provide information and resources to those interested about the services they provide for individuals with autism.
Farmer said the response from the community has been very supportive.
“The response has been a lot bigger than we thought, I’m worried because I only ordered a hundred coffee cups,” she said.
“I had one person call me and say her mother with PTSD from the army was excited and would be willing to try the parade in the quiet zone.” Farmer said, “I think this really opened my eyes. I didn’t even think about how this could help people with PTSD enjoy a parade experience.”
The quiet zone will have a headphone checkout station where those sensitive to loud noises can check out noise canceling headphones to use, she said, along with sensory seats and toys being available for use during the parade.
“I am so thrilled to have a quiet zone option available for our small town. I've always seen it in bigger cities and I've admired it,” Stephanie Mefford, a resident of Clarksville, wrote in a Facebook message to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
Mefford’s 11-year-old son with a rare genetic disorder called CTNNB1 syndrome can sometimes have issues with loud horns and lights, she wrote.
“He usually has a hard time and covers his ears and eyes for most of the parade so having this option this year is quite amazing.” Mefford wrote, “Being a parent of a child with special needs, it makes me very happy that we can all enjoy the parade in the quiet zone.”
Farmer said volunteers in the quiet zone will be handing out free cookies and hot chocolate.
She also said she is hoping to get feedback about the quiet zone after the parade.
“We want to be as inclusive as we can, so if there is something we can add next time we’d love to know.” Farmer said.