HENRICO, VA. (WWBT) - Improvements are underway in Henrico’s Dorey Park to make the 2019 Red, White and Light’s event run smoother than it did last year.
County leaders received dozens of comments and complaints following the 2018 event due to traffic issues at the park and along Darbytown Road.
“Traffic was just backed up everywhere,” said Jason Redford, who lives across the street from the park. “My friend was giving me a ride back home and I stopped at a store and walked back before she could get here."
"People were frustrated,” added Henrico Co. Recreation & Parks Director Neil Luther. “It backed up traffic quite a bit, and quite particularly with the flow of the event last year we had to partially shut down all access in while people got out."
As the County prepares for the Red, White and Lights celebration at Dorey Park for a second year, leaders do not want a repeat of the negative this year.
In May construction crews started building a nearly 1/2 mile road on Dorey Park's western end of the property which will connect with Darbytown Road as a second access point.
“The police will hold the intersection and direct traffic,” Luther said. “So if you’re coming from the east you’ll come in one entrance, if you’re coming from the west you’ll be directed into the other.”
However, Redford isn't necessarily sold on the new entrance.
"It's a waste of money and time for one day a year,” he said. “I think better planning is all they really need."
Redford is also concerned about the impact on his parent’s home which is also across the street.
"Fourth of July will be lights in their window," he said.
Luther attested this year's Red White and Lights event will be more organized; communicating efficiently with police and letting the public know about this new road.
"The challenge with a lot of people is we've got to get people parked as quickly as possible,” he said. “By having these two points of access we'll be doubling the flow in and hopefully make that process a lot more smoothly for people."
Crews are currently working on drainage issues along the new road but will lay down the pavement just in time for the 4th of July celebration, according to County leaders. The free event will start at 4 p.m. and provide entertainment options for the family, including a performance by the Richmond Symphony Orchestra, scheduled for 8 p.m., and fireworks with a light-show.
“We really would encourage people to get here early and plan to make an evening out of it,” Luther said. “In particular to see the fireworks you need to be in the park. These aren’t high level fireworks. It’s not one of these fireworks displays where you can park somewhere in proximity to the park and be able to see them. They’re choreographed in with the symphony performance.”
Guests are allowed to bring blankets and chairs. Entertainment will be provided by DJ Lonnie B, juggler Jonathan Austin, Miss Sherri the Clown and Uncle Sam on Stilts. A carnival-style family fun zone will be open from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Radio One Richmond personality Kelli Lemon will emcee the event. Food trucks will also be on site.
The Red, White and Lights event will also celebrate the 50th anniversaries of Henrico Recreation & Parks and the “Virginia is for Lovers” slogan of Virginia Tourism.
There will be a section where attendees can share what they love about Henrico and Virginia, with a special photo opportunity, giveaways, etc.
For more information on this event, click here.
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