Mount Laurel police said that contrary to a message from the school district, they will not file charges against anyone involved with drive-by parades to celebrate birthdays and other milestones.

The parades, which sometime involve police and fire vehicles, have become a way to celebrate birthdays, funerals other special occasions around New Jersey now that gatherings for parties, graduations and religious events are prohibited by Gov. Phil Murphy's pandemic executive orders.

Sparta police Chief Neil Spidaletto told TAP into Sparta in April that he was concerned about the number of vehicles that were part of some parades, which attract people out of their homes to watch.

Murphy on April 10 acknowledged how emotional the parades can be but urged caution.

"I think we've got to be very careful because we want people to stay home. So even if you're in a car by yourself, you are going out and, again, I think we have to do this in moderation," the governor said.

The parades have continued but another attempt to stop them is coming from the state Department of Education, according to a Fox 29 report.

The Mount Laurel school district sent a message to parents stating that they had received guidance from the state Department of Education discouraging these drive-bys because they "‘contravene’ the governor’s orders against unnecessary travel, and promote unsafe practices," according to the Fox 29 report.

The district also said Mount Laurel police and the Burlington County Prosecutor's Office could issue citations, Fox 29 reported.

Mount Laurel police said on their Facebook page "this is not the case" and that thet "strongly encourage" residents to participate in moderation. The department would not be part of any parades, police said.

“We understand the joy and excitement the parades provide and hope they continue to happen in a safe manner,” the department wrote on their Facebook page.

The Burlington County Prosecutor's Office said they believe Murphy has "struck the right chord for drive-by parades" and  offered some guidance:

  • Any drive-by parade must observe the requirements of social distancing, including that there be no “gathering” of more than 10 people
  • No clustering of cars ahead of time to “marshal” the parade.
  • The parade should be organized prior to the date through instructions communicated via social media, email, texts, phone calls, etc.
  • Vehicles should be staggered (with only family members or no more than 1 or 2 people in them), with times set for each one to drive by
  • Vehicles should not linger or congregate after driving by

The Mount Laurel public school district and the state Department of Education did not return messages from New Jersey 101.5 on Friday morning seeking copies of the email and the guidance.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ

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