The always-popular and entertaining Lake of the Ozarks St. Patrick’s Day Parade is six weeks away, and behind-the-scenes planning has already begun.

The always-popular and entertaining Lake of the Ozarks St. Patrick’s Day Parade is six weeks away, and behind-the-scenes planning has already begun.

The 36th annual parade will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday, March 14, along Bagnell Dam Blvd.

There will be a slight change for participants this year in the interest of public safety. The distribution of candy during the parade will be streamlined to help protect the thousands of youngsters – and some adults – from being injured.

Parade participants will no longer be allowed to throw candy from their vehicles or floats. Candy can be handed out by participants walking alongside the floats and vehicles – throwing will be discouraged. The intent is to keep pedestrians a safe distance from the moving vehicles.

Lake Ozark Police Chief Gary Launderville says spectators last year were so crowded along the route that officers and volunteers were afraid someone was going to get run over. 

“Last year, twice I saw a youngster get away from his parents and come within a couple of feet of getting hurt or killed,” he said. “We want to make sure we have a fun, safe parade.”

Launderville said it’s not his intent or the intent of a recently approved resolution to take away from the enjoyment of the event. It has become a safety issue.

Excess drinking by participants in the parade has also become an issue. It’s against the law to consume alcohol on public property in Lake Ozark, and participants are abusing that law by drinking inside their vehicles or on the floats or parade entries.

The parade is sponsored by the Bagnell Dam Strip Association, and city officials provide traffic control and monitor the parade. 

For complete information on the parade, go to: http://www.lakestpatsparade.com.