Parade Corp asks city to step up to save parades

Canada Day parade. BlackburnNews.com file photo.

The executive director of the Windsor Parade Corporation thinks the city should step in now that it has lost funding for two major parades.

Dave Grimaldi said he found out on Monday through the media the Downtown Windsor Business Improvement Association was pulling sponsorship for this year’s Canada Day and Santa Claus parades downtown.

The sponsorship is worth $40,000, and Grimaldi told BlackburnNews.com the decision puts the future of both events in doubt.

DWBIA Chair Brian Yeomans said the decision was made during budget deliberations after a series of membership roundtables and a survey on what priorities they had.

“It wasn’t so much the membership said don’t do it,” he explained. “The parade was not at the top of the list, and we were looking at doing a few new initiatives this year in order to improve the downtown. The parade was a pretty significant cost to us.”

Yeomans also said he regretted how the Windsor Parade Corporation was notified.

“We had already prepared the letter to send off to him. That was the beginning of the year. That was the time we were planning on having this conversation,” he explained. “It was unfortunate that that was the way that Mr. Grimaldi found out.”

Grimaldi, meanwhile, admitted he was suspicious of the DWBIA’s intentions to stop funding events because it did not pull its support for Bluesfest.

“We support that it is downtown. They do bring a lot of people,” said Yeomans, adding that support does not include a financial contribution.

The 45th edition of the Windsor Santa Claus Parade on Riverside Dr. December 7, 2013.

He also wondered why the DWBIA would pull funding now, when just two years ago, it lobbied the parade company to return downtown. Before that, the Santa Claus Parade was held on Riverside Drive, while the Canada Day Parade was on Wyandotte Street East.

Yeomans said he was not part of that meeting in the Mayor’s Office. He and the new board were only elected a year ago.

As for whether the city should fund the events, as suggested by Grimaldi, Yeomans felt it would be inappropriate for him to comment because the decision would be up to city council.

A statement released to the media Monday said the DWBIA would still welcome the two parades downtown, but because of budget restraints, it could not continue to fund them.

“This weekend, we implemented the sidewalk snow clearing, which when you look at cost and having people be safe and secure — that’s a top priority,” said Yeomans.

Grimaldi said the Canada Day Parade typically attracts 50,000 people. Attendance for the Santa Claus Parade depends more on the weather but attracts between 25,000 and 40,000.