Judy Beall assumed that a horrible wreck had occurred when she saw Charleston County sheriff's deputies blocking both lanes of U.S. Highway 17 near Red Top on Monday morning.
But when she got of her car to investigate, Beall was stunned to see dozens of revelers crossing the highway by Dodge's Chicken, waving and holding balloons.
Beall needed to get to North Charleston to retrieve her husband from the airport. When she questioned a deputy about the delay, Beall learned she had stumbled upon a Labor Day parade in which participants file across the highway en route to a community playground. The deputy told her she was stuck until the procession ended, she said.
"It took an hour, and traffic was tied up to Ravenel," said Beall, who lives in nearby Stono Ferry Plantation. "You don't shut down a major highway like that for an hour for no purpose. Whoever issued the permit for that parade should be fired."
Sheriff's Maj. John Clark said the parade is an annual event that has gone on for years. The parade is hosted by a Red Top community group that receives a state permit to cross the highway with its procession.
"We're just there to get people across the road as smoothly and safely as possible," he said.
Clark said the parade usually takes just a few minutes. This year, more people were involved and the procession lasted at least 20 minutes. Clark, however, said he didn't think the road was closed for an entire hour. Other than Beall's, he had heard of no other complaints.
"We'll take a look at it, and if it's at the point where the crowds have become a problem, we will re-evaluate it," he said.
Organizers of the event could not be reached for comment Monday.
Reach Glenn Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org.