Ethnic parades plead their cases today

Posted: January 25, 2010

During the past year of city budget cutbacks, one policy has proved extra controversial - requiring special events like parades to pay city costs.

Today, city officials plan to meet with representatives from the six annual ethnic parades to discuss the fees for their Center City marches.

Councilwoman Maria Quinones Sanchez, who pushed for the sit-down, said she didn't think that the smaller, volunteer-staffed ethnic parades should face the same financial burden as bigger events that attract more donors and corporate sponsorship.

"All of these parades don't require the same manpower," she said.

Sanchez also said she wants to put dedicated funding for ethnic parades in the city budget.

"The amount of money is minimal," she said. "We might be talking about $100,000 total."

Sanchez said she expected the meeting to be attended by representatives from all the parades: Puerto Rican Day, Columbus Day, St. Patrick's Day, Greek Independence Day, Steuben Day and Pulaski Day.

Mayor Nutter's spokesman Doug Oliver said via e-mail that the city had made no decision about set funding for ethnic parades.

"We understand that the councilwoman would like the city to have a dedicated funding source for these ethnic parades," Oliver said. "A decision in that regard will have to be viewed in the context of the overall budget and no decision has yet been made."

The Nutter administration announced in late 2008 that due to budget constraints, the city could no longer afford to cover the police and sanitation costs associated with special events.

Throughout the past year, the city's six ethnic parades struggled with the new policy - along with bigger events like the Mummers, New Year's Day parade and the Dad Vail Regatta.

Several ethnic parades shortened their routes to cut costs. The St. Patrick's Day parade went on after last-minute funds were provided by, among others, Philadelphia Media Holdings L.L.C., owner of the Daily News the Inquirer and Philly.com.

In September, the organizers of the Columbus Day Parade canceled the event, in part due to the $12,000 in city costs.

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