The annual Sanford Christmas Parade came to sudden, frightening halt Monday night when shots rang out on Wicker Street, near the parade route, and sent people scattering.
There were injuries, but police did not immediately release details.
Thousands of people participate in the event, driving vehicles, riding on floats or walking with a group.
The shooting happened before 8 p.m., when floats were still entering the route.
The parade is a big event for the city, drawing local businesses, churches, dance schools, civic groups and both high school bands. It’s always held on the first Monday evening in December, and people begin to gather along the route more than an hour before the start time so they can get a good spot. Spectators are close enough to the parade that they can call out to their children, or their former dance teachers, or to the sheriff as they pass.
The shooting occurred near a point where the parade turns to make its loop through town. The floats and marchers stopped moving, and spectators began to flee, some getting in their cars and speeding up Wicker Street against the direction of the parade entries. As word spread that shots had been fired, parents snatched up their children and their folding chairs and ran toward their cars, some parked several blocks away.
ABC11 reported that Sanford Police Capt. Harold Layton told local media that two people were shot. One is in serious condition while the other has a non-life threatening injury. The TV station also reported that eye witnesses heard between four and seven gunshots, and thought they saw two gunmen. ABC11 confirmed that suspect has been arrested, but no further details have been released by the Sanford Police Department.