Support grows for moving parade

Published 9:48 pm Monday, July 20, 2009

Despite a flurry of commentary related to the revelation that Suffolk officials are considering moving the annual Christmas parade this year, at least one member of City Council is trying to keep an open mind about the proposal.

Suffolk borough’s Councilman Charles Parr said he’s not adamantly against a proposal to move the Christmas parade to North Suffolk this year.

“I think it’s nice to change venues every now and then,” he said on Friday. “If it works, fine, but it might not work.”

City Manager Selena Cuffee-Glenn put forward the idea of moving the parade in a July 8 letter to City Council members.

“With the continued commercial growth throughout the city, we have an opportunity this year to reach out to various segments of the community to partner with us on this year’s holiday events,” Cuffee-Glenn wrote in the letter.

City staff members have been reviewing the idea of moving the parade to the Route 17 and Harbour View Boulevard corridors, Cuffee-Glenn wrote. She based the idea on a number of considerations:

4The two annual citywide parades, Peanut Fest and Christmas, both take place downtown, with only about nine weeks between the two.

4Harbour View’s growing population and its location near other communities could result in a bigger crowd.

4Harbour View Boulevard will allow for an evening parade without extensive police or traffic control costs.

4Areas for parade unit staging and spectator parking are widely available in the area.

4Privately sponsored transportation could bring downtown and other residents to the area to view the parade.

Cuffee-Glenn also proposed that the annual illumination ceremony continue downtown at Market Park, its traditional location. She also suggested that it occur the Friday before Thanksgiving, in order to lengthen the season for downtown merchants.

Parr acknowledged he had received the letter, and he said he understood many of the city manager’s points.

“I think you need to spread it around,” Parr said. “The city of Suffolk’s 400 square miles. I don’t have that big of an issue with it.”

Parr also said he did not think the parade was much of an economic stimulus for downtown businesses, and may even be impeding traffic to some stores and restaurants.

“[Moving the parade] would give the downtown folks a little relief,” he said.