Update as of Nov. 7:
Several sponsors have come forward, so the St. Augustine Christmas Parade is no longer canceled and will happen this December, said parade director Linda Abbott.
“There’s all kinds of people calling, wanting to help, so it’s just been amazing,” Abbott said. “I have a couple of people that want to sponsor the whole thing.”
Previous story posted on Nov. 6:
The St. Augustine Christmas Parade has been canceled for 2017 because of lack of funding, parade director Linda Abbott said.
Abbott says confusion related to sponsorship for the event sparked the issue. She tried to find other sponsors to cover fees for city services, but it became clear time was running out.
“Basically I haven’t been able to find a sponsor or sponsors … It’s been my heart for 21 years,” said Abbott, who took over running the parade from the Chamber of Commerce in the 1990s.
She said in an email to The Record that she waited as long as she could to make the decision, but wanted to let people know so they could make other plans. Also, people had started spending money on their floats, she said.
The parade will return Dec. 1, 2018, according to Abbott. There have been more than 60 Christmas parades.
The parade, which features Santa Claus riding on a fire truck and dozens of other floats and entries, travels along a stretch of State Road A1A in St. Augustine that includes San Marco Avenue and the bayfront.
In 2013, the city of St. Augustine started charging all events on public property for the cost of city services, according to Paul Williamson, city public affairs director. Those costs cover police presence and the placement and removal of barricades.
Before that, the city didn’t charge a rental fee or fee for services for events in the public right-of-way, according to Williamson.
The Christmas Parade requested and receive a waiver for those fees in 2013 and 2014, but they paid the fees in the following two years. In 2015, the cost was $6,846.00, and in 2016 the cost was $6,714.50, according to Williamson. The costs are different because of changes in the number of city employees working as well as their hours and pay rates.
“We’re trying to keep events from costing the taxpayers,” said Williamson, adding that residents are already inconvenienced with the number of events in the city.
The parade has other costs, such as insurance and advertising, that are funded by entrance fees, Abbott said.
Abbott is the owner, director and producer of the parade.
“There’s not a big organization behind the Christmas parade,” according to Williamson. “It’s Linda Abbott. She makes this work, so there really ought to be some help out there for her.”