Ridgeway May Raise Parade Standards

Ridgeway – Requirements to enter and participate in the Ridgeway Christmas parade could become more strenuous next year, and that would suit at least one local merchant just fine.

Judy Miller, owner of Just Around the Corner in Ridgeway, expressed her dissatisfaction with this year’s parade at the Dec. 13 Ridgeway Town Council meeting. The event, she said, had become less of a parade and more like absolute chaos.

“A parade is an organized public procession,” Miller said. “And in my opinion, (this year’s parade) was very unorganized.”

Miller said her opinion reflects the opinions of many of the other downtown merchants.

“Every one of them felt exactly as I did,” she said. “It (the parade) had lost its theme, it had lost any kind of organization, any kind of intent other than to just make noise. No one thought it did the businesses any good. The tradition of a Christmas parade seems to have been lost in our town.”

Miller said that even though the town’s rules for the parade prohibit the throwing of candy and other items during the parade, candy was thrown at this year’s event, some of which struck Miller in the head. Miller also said parade participants riding on top of cars – not in sunroofs or in open convertibles – presented a potential hazard. Miller added that the motorcycles in this year’s parade were a noisy distraction, some of which spun their wheels and threw up large amounts of smoke and exhaust into the air.

Miller didn’t just protest the parade, however, but also offered to help with the organization of next year’s parade.

Councilman Donald Prioleau said some of the motorcycles in this year’s parade may not have been actual parade entries, but rode into town and joined the parade at the last minute. He also said that it was difficult to get as many high school marching bands as the parade has had in the past because so many schools have cut their budgets, making transportation of their bands to parades difficult. Prioleau also said that the town didn’t even have a line item in the budget to help finance the parade. Such a line item, he said, could possibly help the town assist in the transportation of high school bands in the future.

Prioleau said the town would attempt to find out which motorcycle clubs were operating their bikes in a disruptive manner and ban them from next year’s parade.

Ridgeway Mayor Charlene Herring said the town should find a way to better enforce parade regulations, including perhaps limiting the number of motorcycles. Prioleau said the town should encourage area churches to enter actual floats into the parade and educate them on where floats can be rented. An entry fee may also be required for future parades, Herring suggested; but Prioleau appeared less than enthusiastic about such a fee.

“I’ve seen three towns that have lost their parades because of entry fees,” Prioleau said.

“We’ve already lost it,” Miller chimed in. “When you’ve lost control of something, you’ve lost it.”

Council ultimately decided on a new parade committee to devise suggestions for the improvement of next year’s parade.

In other business, Council accepted the bid of $1,930 from Thomas Oswald to paint the Old Town Hall cupola. Oswald’s bid was the lowest among three bidders for the job, which included Proven Tucker ($2,840) and Lewis Brazell ($2,350).