DDC won’t plan Christmas parade, trick-or-treating

No downtown manager means group lacks manpower for holiday events
Jul. 18, 2014 @ 06:41 PM

The Downtown Development Commission has relinquished responsibility of its annual Halloween and Christmas celebrations this year, according to chairman Phil Hart.

“We are not saying they are canceled,” he said. “We are just saying that we aren’t going to do them.”

With the loss of the downtown manager position, the commission will not have time to plan parade and trick-or-treating events.

Hart said each board member has only about a hour or so to volunteer and their own businesses to manage in the process.

“About two months of work go into planning the parade to really make it work,” he said. “We don’t want to say we will do it and fail because we don’t have the time to put into it.”

Hart said the commission sent a letter to City Hall explaining they would not sponsor the events, but members said they plan to help where they can.

City Manager Ray Griffin said Christmas streetlight decorations and the lighting ceremony will continue, but he hopes local businesses will step up to carry out the rest.

“Staffing in City Hall is limited for that, as well,” he said.

Deryl Von Williams, owner of the Village Cafe, said the city will be lost without its downtown manager, Pam Hester. The city cut about $50,000 for her position from their fiscal budget, which sparked the DDC’s fears of how the events will turn out without an organizer.

“She is the one who plans all these things,” she said.

Von Williams said she participates in the events every year and was a part of a committee that created the downtown trick-or-treating.

“I told them we needed something to bring people downtown,” she said. “Now thousands of kids come every year.”

She said it was unlikely that businesses would want to come together to do either event.

Griffin said he has had inquiries from merchants who want to sponsor the Christmas parade but will wait to see who commits.

Tracy Williams, owner of DaLa Marie’s Boutique and Spa, said everyone should be focusing on other things lost with the downtown manager position.

She said she wants to see it come back but with a sole purpose of improving the economic development of downtown, bringing in new businesses and promoting the expansion of existing shops.

“They should have established more goals so that we and the city could have seen how important the position was,” she said. “Otherwise it’s just another position.”

For his part, Hart said the commission has to decide what its role will be for next year.

“We hope that we can have some events and raise some money,” he said. “But the reality is that we don’t have the staff to do those things.”

Henderson-Vance Parks and Recreation Department interim director Steve Osborne said the Halloween events at Aycock Recreation Center will still happen this year.


Contact the writer at dhairston@hendersondispatch.com.