LAKELAND, Fla. — If you're eying that up-close seat to the Lakeland Christmas Parade, be warned: Efforts to reserve it won't be like years' past.

The city last week asked residents not to place any chairs along the parade route until the day of the parade, Thursday, Dec. 5. Anything left prior in an attempt to grab a front-row spot -- or anywhere, for that matter -- will be removed.

That means no blankets, chairs, tape and more meant to snag a space. They'll all be removed if blocking sidewalks, in the way of crosswalks and in the way of disabled parking spaces.

It's all in the name of safety, the city says.

"We understand people want a good vantage point to watch the parade. Unfortunately, we have chairs blocking sidewalks and crosswalks days before the parade," Fire Chief Doug Riley said in a statement.

Those chairs create "a major hazard, especially for those in our community that use wheelchairs and walkers to get around," Police Chief Reuben Garcia added.

The parade begins with fireworks over Lake Mirror at 7 p.m., departing from the RP Funding Center. It then goes down Lemon Street, turns at Main Street to Cedar Street and back around Lake Mirror to Orange Street.

It will end at RP Funding Center.

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