Christmas parade was off, now it is back on
Fri, 2016-10-28 05:00 News Staff
By LYNETTE SOWELL
Within a 24-hour period from Wednesday afternoon through Thursday morning, the Christmas parade in Copperas Cove was cancelled, then was back on again.
The Chamber of Commerce sent out an email on Wednesday and posted a notice of apology on Facebook which created a firestorm, with some user comments blaming City of Copperas Cove, the council and also the city manager for the chamber’s decision.
The Chamber’s Facebook post stated that “the decision was made due to the increase in the city fees. The Chamber does not feel it is right to charge a high entry fee for participants to cover the city fees.”
Copperas Cove Chamber of Commerce board chair Butch Ronne said Wednesday’s decision to cancel the Christmas parade almost felt “like canceling Christmas.”
For the past three years, the Armed Services YMCA has held the parade in Copperas Cove, but wasn’t able to this year and turned it back over to the chamber.
About two weeks ago, the chamber had announced registration was open for the Christmas parade, this year including a $20 entry fee for those wishing to march or put a float in the parade to offset costs to the chamber.
Fees charged by the City of Copperas Cove will total $528.08, but Ronne said there are more costs than city fees for the Chamber to hold the parade, like renting porta-potties, paying for electricity and purchasing awards. Those additional costs, Ronne said, pushed the cost for holding the parade up to as much as $1,000 to $1,300, something he said the chamber board agreed it couldn’t afford. Rather than pass that cost via a $20 fee for groups marching in the parade or entering a float, the chamber decided to cancel on Wednesday. Ronne said the chamber board members who responded voted not to hold the parade this year, with the reason being the costs the chamber would incur.
Then came the chamber announcement Wednesday via email and on Facebook.
Costs are nothing new for groups holding parades in the city, but can vary depending on the services needed from the City of Copperas Cove. The Copperas Cove Chamber of Commerce, however, pays actual costs for services due to an ordinance approved unanimously by city council last year.
Kevin Keller, the public information officer for the City of Copperas Cove, said an ordinance was approved by the Copperas Cove city council on Aug. 4, 2015 that went into effect on Jan. 1, 2016.
Ordinance 2015-24 sets the terms and conditions for chamber-sponsored events, part of which includes the chamber paying the City of Copperas Cove for its actual costs in providing services for a chamber-sponsored event, such as a parade., with short-term licensing agreements.
For example, the licensing costs to the chamber for the 2016 Rabbit Fest parade amounted to $1,194, Keller said.
“The fees attached to the agreement are either in the City’s fee schedule or provided by the department,” Keller wrote in an email to the Leader-Press on Wednesday. “The agreement for this year’s Krist Kindl Markt Parade was presented to the Chamber about two weeks ago. The original Exhibit C which I provided to them was in the amount of $368.08; I did notice a missing item on the exhibit and provided the Chamber with an updated amount of $528.08 earlier this week. The fees include Police, Street Sweeper and Barricades.”
With news of the parade’s cancellation spreading via social media and word of mouth, within 24 hours three Copperas Cove businesses and residents had stepped up to cover the fees, Robert and Rachel Sizemore, Doggie Day Spa, and H.I.S. Construction. Through their efforts, as of press time Thursday, Pat Bernhard with H.I.S. had raised enough donations so there will be no entry fee to participate the parade.
The chamber has released another entry form and is now accepting registrations for categories including bands, car/motorcycle clubs, civic organizations, floats, marching groups, performing groups and youth floats.
It is not unheard of for some communities to charge a participation fee for those who enter floats or march in a parade. Killeen charges a $25 entry fee to participate in its Christmas parade, with Temple charging a $65 entry fee for businesses and $35 fee for churches and nonprofits.
The Christmas parade is scheduled for Saturday, Dec., 3 at 3 p.m. along Avenue D.