What you need to know about parking, aid station before heading to Oktoberfest

The Midwest’s longest running Oktoberfest celebration begins Thursday. The fest grounds open for the senior breakfast at 7:30 a.m., with activities throughout the day.

Local officials taking a number of precautions so people can have a good time during Oktoberfest. Starting at 6 a.m Thursday until midnight on Sunday, if you’re planning to park in the ramps it might cost more than you’re used to.

“Every 24-hour period there’s going to be a $10 fee,” said Sgt. Tom Walsh, of the La Crosse Police Department.

People can pay at the pay stations in the ramp or through the passport mobile app. Any permit holders will be exempt from the fee. Permits for the Main St. and Pine St. ramps will be valid for the Market Square and La Crosse center ramps if they are full.

If you plan to park on the street Friday and Saturday night, you might need to move.

“If those vehicles are parked there, they will be subject to being towed,” Walsh said.

Signs are already up around 3rd Street and some side streets warning drivers about road closures. The area will be blocked off for pedestrians to walk in the streets from 7 p.m. to 3 a.m.

“We’re talking about a lot of people that are down here. And trying to manage them by keeping them on the sidewalk is a model that we found didn’t work back in the ’90s,” Walsh said.

Paramedics with Gundersen Tri-Sate Ambulance will be roaming the area on bikes to see if anyone needs medical attention.

“We coordinate with police and fire to get ambulances in and out safety and keep everyone else safe while we’re doing it. [And we] get people where they need to go as quick as possible,” said Kent Stein, operations manager for Tri-State Ambulance.

If you’re walking around and need help, you can head to the 3rd Street Aid Station in the Subway parking lot. It will be open from 7 p.m. to 3 a.m. on Friday and Saturday night.

“You need help, you need a bathroom, need first aid, recharge your cellphone, help finding something– this is a good place to come,” said La Crosse police Special Operations Officer Kurt Weaver.

With changes in parking and lots of people around town, first responders want people to have fun, but be safe at the same time.

“Come to have a good time but be respectful and responsible when you do it,” Weaver said.

If you want to skip any issues with parking and want to make sure you have a way to get to or from the area, the police department recommends taking a Lyft, Uber, taxi or bus.

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