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The Chorus of Westerly Summer Pops performance in Wilcox Park in June 2014. Sun file photo

WESTERLY — The annual Summer Pops, one of the community's largest downtown summer events, will return this weekend. Police are asking local residents and patrons to be prepared.

Westerly Police Capt. Stephen Johnson and Police Chief Shawn Lacey are asking that those attending the event or traveling downtown be prepared for parking restrictions and delays that will begin to take effect at 5 p.m. on Saturday and continue through the duration of the program. The event, which is hosted by the Chorus of Westerly, is open to the public.

"Our goal is simply to make sure everyone is able to safely enjoy the event," Lacey said.

According to police, Grove Avenue will be closed to all traffic at 5 p.m., with exceptions for those who need handicapped parking, until spaces are filled. Wilcox Avenue will also be closed at that time. Motorists will be detoured to Newton Avenue or asked to use adjacent streets, the police said.

Handicapped parking will also be available across from Westerly Town Hall on Broad Street and extending to Westerly Public Library, as well as the spaces in front of the U.S. Post Office. Parking restrictions will be strictly enforced.

At the conclusion of the event, Lacey said those in attendance should expect a 10- to 15-minute delay to allow patrons to safely return to their cars. Traffic on Railroad Avenue heading south will be redirected onto Canal Street, and those heading east on Canal Street will be asked to use High Street to help alleviate traffic congestion.

For the safety of those in attendance, the police said there will be no bicycles, scooters, skateboards or similar riding devices allowed in the park. Dogs and other pets are also prohibited during the event.

Due to the presence of fireworks, which will be launched from inside the park, Lacey and Johnson said a section will be marked and cordoned off. Officers will be monitoring the area and the general public will not be allowed inside.

For those hoping to reserve a spot, officials said blankets will be the only items allowed to be left in the park and may be placed at or after 5 p.m. on Friday. Any chairs, coolers or other items left unattended will be removed.

The pre-show performance will begin at 6:15 p.m. with the main event scheduled to begin around 8 p.m. If there is inclement weather, police said the same restrictions and regulations would remain in place for the event's rain date on Sunday.

Lacey also asked residents and those in attendance to remain alert to help assure everyone remains safe.

"Please be aware of your surroundings and pay attention to what is going on around you. If you see something, don't be afraid to report it," Lacey said. "The people there are the eyes and ears for us and it will take a team effort to keep everyone safe, but we expect it will be a good event."

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