Streets in much of downtown Everett will be shut down Thursday to accommodate thousands of people expected to attend.
O'Connell, 38, died last week in an on-duty motorcycle collision in Skagit County.
The day's events are scheduled to begin about 11 a.m. in the Smokey Point area. More than 500 police cars, some from as far away as New York, are expected to participate in the motorcade, which will wind down southbound I-5 to Everett Avenue and then to the arena.
Hewitt Avenue is expected to close as the motorcade approaches. Everett fire trucks will drape a building-size American flag near the arena's entrance. Per tradition, the procession includes a horse without a rider.
A group of officers known as the "cordon of honor" will envelop the family and accompany them into the arena.
On Wednesday morning, police officers already filled the arena's floor space, readying for the ceremony.
The service will be a combination of the family's wishes and traditional law enforcement ceremonies, according to the State Patrol. It is expected to last about three hours. The public is invited.
Motorcycle officers from around Snohomish County could be seen Wednesday on Hewitt Avenue, planning routes and making sure everything would run smoothly.
The different officers shared solemn nods and waves as they passed each other in and around the arena.
Each group had a task. Each task was important.
They all wore black bands of mourning across their badges.
At one point during Thursday's ceremony, officials will add a gold streamer to a Washington State Patrol flag.
Each streamer on the flag represents an officer the agency has lost in the line of duty.
The State Patrol also plans a 21-bell salute in place of the 21-gun salute due to the indoors location. An honor guard was practicing Wednesday at Comcast as well.
Drivers are encouraged to stay away from downtown Everett from mid-morning Thursday until early evening. They should expect road closures, delays and bus route changes. As many as a dozen city blocks will be affected.
Memorial service attendees are encouraged to park at the 10th Street boat launch on the northwest side of town. People coming from the south should take Pacific Avenue to W. Marine View Drive, according to Everett police. People from the north should take Highway 529. Everett Avenue will be used by the motorcade and is not advised.
Everett Transit plans to provide free shuttle service from the boat launch to the arena beginning at 10 a.m. Shuttles will run about every 15 minutes until about 1:30 p.m. Return shuttles will begin after the service and end about 5:30 p.m.
Other people riding buses in the city should check the agency's Facebook account for updates regarding downtown routes.
Drivers also should expect delays on southbound I-5 during the motorcade. The highway will close for about a half hour starting about 11 a.m.
In addition, the rest area on southbound I-5 in Smokey Point is closed until about 1 p.m. Thursday.
Arlington city officials ask drivers to avoid the Island Crossing area, where I-5 crosses Highway 530, including the on-ramps and off-ramps, from about 7 a.m. Thursday to noon. The area may be used as a turnaround for motorcade participants.
Drivers should take detours, including Highway 9 and 172nd Street NE, city spokeswoman Kristin Banfield said.
People who wish to catch a glimpse of the motorcade should do so in safe, legal places, according to the Washington State Patrol. People should not park on overpasses.
Recommended viewing spots are the sidewalks of any overpass between Smokey Point and downtown Everett, 34th Ave NE north of 116th, which faces the freeway, and along Everett Avenue in Everett as the motorcade exits the freeway.
Last week's collision took place as O'Connell was working traffic control related to the Skagit River Bridge collapse.
O'Connell had been with the agency 16 years.
He lived in the Marysville area. He had a wife and two children.
As officers walked around Comcast Arena on Wednesday, a woman approached.
She was a local business owner, she said. She asked if they needed anything, if she could offer free refreshments.
Such offers and signs of kindness have been commonplace in the days since O'Connell's death, the officers said.
Rikki King: 425-339-3449; email@example.com
In his memory
People can donate to the O'Connell family through the Washington State Patrol Memorial Foundation, P.O. Box 7544, Olympia, WA 98507. The family is asking folks who want to send flowers to instead donate to the Behind The Badge Foundation or the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
A covered area where flowers and notes can be left in O'Connell's honor has been set up at the patrol's regional headquarters at 2700 116th Street NE, Marysville. People are asked not to stop at the collision scene in Skagit County.
The State Patrol asks for Twitter posts about O'Connell to feature the memorial tag #sean1076. The hashtag features O'Connell's first name and his badge number, which will be retired after his funeral.
Drivers are asked to follow state-sanctioned detours around the I-5 closure in Skagit County. Other roads are not built to handle the congestion and weight of detour traffic.
Anyone who saw the accident or heard anything may call detectives at 360-805-1192 or 360-805-1194.
The ceremony will be live broadcast by television news.
View Motorcade Route, 6-6-13 in a larger map
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