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City to take over Christmas parade

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Fredericksburg Jaycees Christmas Parade in 2012. / FILE / THE FREE LANCE-STAR

The Fredericksburg Jaycees have organized the city’s annual Christmas parade for 26 years, but that run has come to an end.

The Jaycees notified city officials this summer that they can no longer operate the event, City Manager Bev Cameron said Thursday.

But that doesn’t mean the parade that draws thousands will be canceled.

The city’s parks and recreation staff has picked up the mantle and recognizes the pressure the task brings.

“It’s a Fredericksburg institution so, of course, there’s some anxiety,” said Wendy Stone, division manager for parks and recreation. “We just hope to do it justice.”

She and Tiffany Capehart, the city’s special events and marketing coordinator, will oversee planning for the parade.

They are looking for an event sponsor and a media sponsor and on Monday will post requests for proposals to the city’s website.

The same day they will launch a website devoted to the event: Fredericks burgChristmasParade.com. By month’s end, the site should have most of the essential information for volunteers and spectators, plus applications for entering a float.

Capehart said they will need between 45 and 60 volunteers to help with the event, which, as in years past, will be held on the first Saturday evening in December.

Finding volunteers proved to be a challenge for the Fredericksburg Jaycees last year.

In mid-November, they weren’t sure whether the event would go forward because of a shortage of help.

But, after the need became public, people quickly responded to make sure the annual parade carried on.

For last year’s parade, city officials instituted additional measures aimed at increasing safety and security, which added a bit more pressure to organizers.

But the parade took place without incident.

Early this year, the city checked in with the Jaycees to see what it thought about the 2014 parade, said Karen Hedelt, the city’s director of economic development and tourism.

She noted the Jaycees’ membership has been declining in recent years and city involvement in the event has been forced to increase, so city officials were being watchful.

“No matter who sponsors it, the city is judged by it,” Hedelt said. “It’s something that we have a huge level of interest in and concern for.”

Jennifer Adkins, who has been one of the Jaycees parade organizers the past several years, said she wasn’t part of the decision to withdraw, but recognizes there have been manpower issues.

She said she will meet with Capehart next week to share information from her years of planning.

Attempts to reach others with the Jaycees were unsuccessful.

Cameron said the city had been under the impression the Jaycees were going to run the parade again this year, but got word not long ago that they could not do it.

Given the timing, Cameron said the best option was for the city to run this year’s parade. But he said that might not be the long-term solution.

“We’re going to evaluate it after this year’s experience,” he said.

Pamela Gould: 540/735-1972

pgould@freelancestar.com

PARADE DETAILS

Anyone interested in serving as title sponsor or media sponsor for the Fredericksburg Christmas Parade should check the Request for Proposals under “bids” at fredericksburgva.gov starting on Monday.

People interested in volunteering or entering a float should check out FredericksburgChristmasPa rade.com starting on Monday.

This year’s parade will be held on Dec. 6 at 5:30 p.m. and follow the same route as last year along Caroline and Princess Anne streets between Amelia and Wolfe.

—Pamela Gould

 

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