Monday, June 27, 2011

July 4th in The Woodlands 2011

The Woodlands Texas will have its July 4th festivities this year as always, and it just gets better every year. This year we are in a drought that takes away the fireworks show, but everything else will be conducted as planned. This is the first time the fireworks show has been cancelled since its inception, about 35 years ago.

Fireworks are prohibited in The Woodlands. They are also banned in Harris County and Montgomery County this year. This will be strictly enforced by law enforcement in both counties. If someone is selling or firing fireworks in either county, please report them to your local law enforcement agency. We are under an extreme fire warning and signs are posted all over The Woodlands to this effect.

This is the main event, other than the fireworks. This year’s 4th of July Parade will be on Monday, July 4th. The parade route is approximately 1.3 miles and will begin and end at The Woodlands United Methodist Church on Lake Woodlands Dr.. The parade dates back to the 1970’s. It is organized by an all volunteer group. Last year, the parade had approximately 145 entries and 2,000 to 3,000 participants. This year the committee anticipates 20,000 to 25,000 attending. Roads will of course be closed during the parade.

Before the parade starts, Darrel the Fire Juggler, Uncle Sam, Clowns, Spiderman, Scooby Doo, Sponge Bob, stilt walker, balloonist, magician and many more interesting characters will mingle with the crowd. The Woodlands Concert Band will perform from 8:00 a.m.-9:00 a.m. in Market Street’s Central Park. They will play the National Anthem to signify the start of the parade.

We’re honored to have Kevin Saunders, Paralympian and Stacy Brown, Special Olympian, as this year’s 4th of July Parade Co-Grand Marshals.

The judges’ stand will be located on the balcony in Market Street across from Central Park, along with the announcers, Nick Wolda, VP Marketing and Public Affairs for The Woodlands Township and Ramon Torres. Two DJ Booths will be located along the route.

Between 7:30 am and 10:30 am on July 4, 2011 all or portions of roads in the parade route will be closed. The 1.3 mile route begins and ends at The Woodlands United Methodist Church from Lake Woodlands, right on Grogan’s Mill, left on Lake Robbins, through Market Street, left on Lake Woodlands and ending at the church.

Senior and Physically Challenged Tent: A tent will be set up in front of the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion on Lake Robbins Drive for senior citizens and the physically challenged to obtain respite from the summer heat.

Parking is available in numerous lots along the parade route in The Woodlands Town Center. Please note, if you park in Market Street and also in some of the other parking areas, you will not be able to leave until the parade is over unless there is an emergency.

BANDASTIC! Annual Marching Band Scholarship Program
What’s a parade without marching bands? To entice bands to march in the parade, the South County 4th of July Committee is hosting the Annual Marching Band Scholarship Program. The committee invites high school and college marching bands throughout the region to participate in the scholarship program. Each band will receive a minimum of $2,000 for their participation. Included this year are: Willis High School, The Woodlands High School, College Park High School and Oak Ridge high school bands!

The temperature is usually in the 90s on the 4th of July. The committee urges all volunteers and spectators to drink plenty of water before and during the parade. This is the information is courtesy of Memorial Hermann Hospital. Probably 1/2 gallon per person is sufficient to drink during the parade. The parade cannot provide water so please bring your own.

Drink plenty of cool water, even more than you think you need, when the weather is hot and humid. (High humidity makes heat injuries more likely, because perspiration does not evaporate from the skin as quickly; this causes the body to cool down more slowly.) Water is best; fruit and vegetable juices are also recommended.

Drink at least a gallon of liquid a day (about 16 glasses) when the outside temperature is above 90 degrees and you are not in air-conditioned surroundings. This may mean drinking as much as 1 1/2 times as much liquid as your thirst signals you to drink.

There remains opportunities to volunteer to assist with the parade.

July 4th Committee’s website:

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Woodlands Parkway and Gosling intersection

Sometimes, an intersection is just not designed well. In fact, an intersection can be downright dangerous. This is the case of The Woodlands Parkway and Gosling. It is difficult to understand the reasoning behind this design, except it is to keep traffic flowing without regard to the safety of the pedestrian. Let's see what we are talking about.
Facing north from the south side of the parkway
We are supposed to be a master planned community where pedestrians are provided amenities with safety. During the development of this intersection, something went awry. Walk with me north on Gosling as many in our neighborhood do, to the Panther Creek Shopping Center on the parkway. The shopping center is about three blocks from the homes on the southern side of the Woodlands Pkwy. As we walk along the pathway, we arrive at the intersection above. Automobiles are turning right. The drivers must look to their left to directly merge with the oncoming traffic, because this turn lane has no ramp to it on the parkway. As a result, it is easy to rear-end the car in front of you as you make this right turn. It is also easy to hit a pedestrian in the marked crossing directly in front of us in this photo.

For the pedestrian, the first challenge is to cross the turn lane to get to the button to request a crossing. The right turn lane is not regulated in any way by that pedestrian button on the pole. A pedestrian is on his own to cross that lane.
Crossing six lanes of traffic
Now as we stand on the little island and face to the north, we wait for the pedestrian signal to turn green and give us the number of seconds we are allowed to be in the intersection. This is a challenge also. We feel vulnerable to oncoming traffic from our left.

Now we are nervously watching out for the cars coming at us from the west. One lane is to turn right onto Gosling and the other for traffic to dart a few feet from our feet. This is the pedestrian island. So the light changes and we are cleared to go. We cross. But wait. When we reach the other side, the reverse configuration requires us to watch for traffic turning right from the east onto Gosling. The speed of the turning automobiles is not necessarily slow either!

So we finish our crossing after the cars are allowed to interrupt our crossing. The drivers often assume they have the right of way even though we are in the cross walk.

Coming back with a bag of groceries or other goodies, we now must perform the same crossing in reverse.

Oncoming traffic towards the pedestrian turning just in time
First we cross the turn lane to get to the island requesting a crossing towards the south. Now on the island we are confronted with autos coming straight at us and then turning. We press the button. Hurry up! Cars fly by us and more turn into the lane. We hope everyone is paying attention.
Traffic whizzing by as we wait
The wind of the autos moving at 45-60 mph shake our bodies. Sometimes there is even a honk as a driver is nervous about us being so close to the cars as they move by us at high velocity. That makes us even more nervous. Finally, we cross the six lanes to the other island and then cross the other turning lane. Whew, we made it safely once more. A kid on the bicycle passes by us to cross. I am thinking, I bet he is quicker than us and is able to more confidently cross the 8 lanes. Ah ... maybe not.
Those cars can make anyone nervous, pushing their wall of wind.

The commissioner has been asked to look at this intersection to see how it can be made safer. What has happened to the hometown feel anyway? It feels more like a amusement park arcade with the noise, hustle and bustle, not exactly a country setting anymore.  Although I have not attempted the Kuykendahl crossing for a while, I suspect it is designed the same. Perhaps it is not used much by pedestrians.