Athens prepares for the influx of alumni, students, community members and OU football fans that will be the result of Ohio University’s homecoming by staying vigilant and increasing city services.
There will be greater preparations for a larger amount of trash, extra police presence during the homecoming parade and even extra beautification of Athens to welcome OU’s alumni back.
There will be a surge of people on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, but it's something the city has experience with, Ron Lucas, Athens deputy service safety director, said.
The city will put out additional signage signifying where parking is not allowed, Stone said. Although these areas, like along State Route 682, are always restricted to no parking, they serve as an extra reminder to people.
“We prepare for the traffic that the (football) game will bring in like any other game,” Andy Stone, service safety director, said.
The parade is what sets homecoming aside from the average gameday though, Lucas said.
“It's by far the biggest parade of the year,” Lucas said.
It is also the only parade of the year that the city puts out barricades. There is nothing worse before the parade than having vehicles enter the parade route, Lucas said.
There is an additional presence of first responders due both to the parade and the large amounts of people coming back into Athens.
The fire department will go to emergency staffing, Stone said. This consists of a few extra firefighters per station. In addition to this, there will be an additional police presence, especially during the parade, to make sure everything flows smoothly through town.
There are officers at each intersection of the parade route to ensure the parade gets through safely, Lucas said.
The city will also put out a press release on Thursday or Friday announcing road closures and blockades.
There will also be an additional police presence in the evening after the game and parade. Especially if the weather is nice, there is a greater potential for partying, Stone said. This additional coverage is similar to other staffing during the fall and spring.
“We'll patrol the areas of the city where party tends to occur, will typically bring in some mounted officers in as well,” Stone said, “then respond to nuisance parties or other problems if they if they occur.”
A less visible aspect of parade preparations is dealing with the increased amount of trash disposals, especially along Court Street.
“Along that route, there's often extra trash,” Chris Knisely, Athens City Council president, said.
Stone said the city puts out extra trash collection and has extra cleanup.
Usually, the city’s contractor empties the trash of the town once a day. With homecoming, however, the trashcans tend to fill up quickly due to the increased number of people out and about in Athens.
With an already large load of trash from Friday evening into Saturday morning and with the additional trash from the parade Saturday morning, the city empties the trash cans multiple times throughout the day, Lucas said.
“There's just so much pressure on the trash cans of town with the number of people that we have here,” Lucas said. “We try to keep the receptacles free and clear.”
With the alumni in mind, the city takes extra efforts to keep the streets clean and for their return.
“We make a point to try to... keep things as spruced up as we can, both with our city landscapers and our, street crews, and the trash service, because you've got alumni coming back that you really want the city to look good when they show up,” Stone said.