NewsMontana and Regional News


Driver busts through barricade during holiday parade in Billings

DBA says barricade jumpers are ‘common problem’
Screenshot 2023-11-28 at 4.24.19 PM.png
Posted at 9:59 PM, Nov 28, 2023
and last updated 2023-11-29 00:00:24-05

BILLINGS — It was a scary situation during this year’s Downtown Billings Holiday Parade under Skypoint on Friday, November 24, 2023, when a car busted through barricades, driving toward the oncoming parade.

The driver almost hit a child while trying to exit the blocked-off street. A major crisis was averted, but event organizers say barricade jumpers are a huge problem.

“We were just waiting for the parade to start and all of a sudden saw this maroon car driving through,” says Brooke Bath, Billings parade spectator. “Is she lost? Is she not from Billings?”

It caught everyone off guard, including me. I was hosting live coverage of the parade with MTN News meteorologist Miller Robson, who remarked as a joke, “They were just wanting to get a front-row seat."

The Downtown Billings Alliance, which sponsors the parade, says people frequently offer a similar excuse for not obeying the rules.

“They need to park close. People just do not want to go around the block, or maybe take an extra two minutes to find another route. We’ve heard all the excuses here about why people don’t want to follow barricades,” says Lexie Mann, Downtown Billings Alliance events director.

Since the 2019 holiday parade, Billings has increased the number of vehicle barricades from 37 to 55. Even so, during the 2023 holiday parade alone, 30 vehicles jumped barricades. In fact, Billings police were responding to another barricade jumper when the now famous barricade jumper drove right through Skypoint.

“We had my fellow teammate (Lindsay Richardson) jump in and guide her out safely. She had to run and stop this car from moving so fast through the crowd,” says Mann.

Incidents like this bring up scary memories of a deliberate attack on a holiday parade in Wisconsin two years ago, when six people were killed and 62 others injured. While no one was hurt at the Billings parade, Downtown Billings is all too familiar with the trend.

“People just get out of the car and move the barricade physically and drive in without permission,” says Joe Stout, supervisor of theDBA's Billings Improvement District.

That means workers will continue to keep their head on a swivel, while hoping everyone follows the rules.

“I’d really just like it if folks could respect our closed streets,” says Stout.

“Those barricades mean you do not enter that area,” says Mann. “Pedestrians are out, they are enjoying the streets of downtown, maybe they are cleaning up after an event.”