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50 percent refunds OK'd for parade




Organizers of the Wilson Christmas Parade will give 50 percent refunds to groups that paid entry fees for the parade that was canceled Dec. 7 due to the possibility of rain.

Susan Kellum, Wilson’s downtown development marketing and communications coordinator, sent an email to parade entrants Thursday night notifying them that they will soon receive a refund.

The decision was made by the Wilson Downtown Development Corp., which met Dec. 10 and voted to put some of WDDC money toward the refunds.

"This year, in the spirit of the season and because of the weather challenges, WDDC has decided to issue a 50 percent refund to all paid entries in the parade,” Kellum wrote.

The year’s parade was anticipated to have a large turnout with 118 entries. The refunds are being granted following a review of money already spent prior to the event. Costs included rented floats, marching bands, Santa, Sudan groups, signage, advertising, portable toilets and a parade coordinator, Kellum said.

"The parade is not a fundraising event,” Kellum wrote. "It is held as a service to the Wilson community and has been a self-supporting event that has minimal funds remaining after costs are paid.

"This year had the parade been held, fees would first be used to pay costs with any residual monies donated to the Wilson Chamber Young Leaders charity of choice.”

WDDC collected $4,950 in parade entry fees and spent $2,749, with the remaining $2,201 available for refunds. The WDDC budget will make up the difference and add $274 to provide the 50 percent refund.

In addition to the refunds, groups that rented floats this year will receive a discount if they participate in the 2014 parade because signage has already been prepared.

Some changes are in the works next year. A parade committee will be formed to plan the 2014 parade and anyone interested in organizing, planning and taking part can contact WDDC at historicdowntownwilson@wilsonnc.org. The 118 participant groups from the 2013 parade will be surveyed and asked whether they would like the rain date policy to continue or if they would like it to change to a rain or shine policy.

"The WDDC Board of Directors will use input from the poll and from the parade committee to make decisions regarding the rain or shine policy and the refund policy for future parades,” Kellum wrote.

Some of the criticism about the cancellation of the 2013 parade came after Wilson received no rain the day of the event. Kellum said that there were just as many, if not more, positive remarks regarding the parade cancellation decision.

In her letter to entrants, she explained the process behind canceling the parade, which brought with it criticism from the public. Public officials, including Mayor Bruce Rose, expressed disappointment. Rose also said, a couple days after the parade date, that he planned to look further into the cancellation.

A 90 percent chance of rain during the hour the parade was planned to start led to the decision to cancel the event Saturday. The rain date was Sunday but more rain was predicted so the parade was canceled entirely this year. Trying to schedule the event the following weekend was not possible, either, she said.

"The logistics of a parade in a larger municipal area are more involved than those in smaller communities,” Kellum wrote. "Some have suggested that the rain date be a week later instead of the next day. Many of our participants, including bands and dance groups, have a multitude of other obligations especially as we get closer to Christmas and to the end of the calendar year.”

Parade volunteers are hesitant to obligate two weekends close to a major holiday and rescheduling Wilson police to work the following weekend would not be feasible, she said. The Wilson Christmas Parade and former Jaycees Christmas parades have included on the entrant application that there are no refunds.

"The ‘No Refunds’ policy has always been very clear on the parade application, mentioned once in the cover letter and twice in bold red and on both sides of the application and states: In the event our parade is cancelled due to inclement weather or if your entry is unable to participate, we will use your entry fee as a donation to one of our Christmas charities,” Kellum wrote.

At first, refunds were being considered for large groups that rented floats. That decision changed after the WDDC board met three days after the cancelled event.

rochelle@wilsontimes.com | 265-7818
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View Comments:Show/Hide(16 comments)
@Jaycees said...

If I had known about your problem, I would have helped the group recruit members!!

Wednesday, January 01, 2014 at 5:28 PM
Jaycees said...

The Jaycees chapter folded because the people of Wilson ages 21-40 didn't want to be apart of a group that did things for their community. NO members NO chapter. If you want the Jaycees to rebuild then the Young Adults of this community need to get involved and the Chapter can once again run the Wilson Jaycees Christmas Parade!

Tuesday, December 31, 2013 at 11:12 AM
Do as Semmes said...

I bet we'd have the biggest crowd ever if next year we could do as Semmes, Alabama, did for their Christmas parade....with a population of 3000, Semmes invited the Prancing Elites, a Santa dancing team going to the Mardi Gras and receiving high marks internationally after the Semmes parade made international news. C'mon Wilson...get the Prancing Elites here and save our Christmas parade!

Thursday, December 26, 2013 at 10:55 PM
Just Wondering said...

I'm wondering if they will still try to reschedule the parade before Christmas. It would be a nice Christmas Eve activity.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013 at 1:22 PM
The Truth said...

This parade was a scam to divert money to the downtown.

Monday, December 23, 2013 at 5:17 PM
Hmmmm!! said...

What happened to the Jaycees????? :/


Monday, December 23, 2013 at 10:25 AM @concerned said...

I'm just amazed that you actually thought Wilson was superior to Tarboro and Kinston. It isn't.

Sunday, December 22, 2013 at 7:26 PM *SIGH* said...

Give the people all of their money back. That's the honorable thing to do!!

Sunday, December 22, 2013 at 10:27 PM concerned...... said...

No mall,no parade,....wilson is starting to remind me of Tarboro & Kinston.

Saturday, December 21, 2013 at 1:11 PM Devasted said...

I am 61 years of age, and this is the first time to my knowledge Wilson has not had a Christmas parade. I looked forward to it every year as a child, and taking my grandchildren made it even more exciting. The person or persons responsible for this should be ashamed of themselves. The weather had nothing to do with it and they know it!! SMH!!

Saturday, December 21, 2013 at 9:25 AM Oh my said...

These people should be getting 100% of their fee back! I am glad I am not Kellum..She may need to be looking in the "jobs" section. If the public has their say, she may need a new one.

Saturday, December 21, 2013 at 11:06 PM I smell a Rat!! said...

I smell a rat! There was no inclement weather on that day! Could it be certain adults in question couldn't get along???????

Friday, December 20, 2013 at 5:54 PM dowhatsright said...

I think next year you will have fewer pacticip ants next year becauseof this mess.You give half the money because you spent
?the other half.That ain'tright

Friday, December 20, 2013 at 2:44 PM dorian said...

they should b refumded all of their money bac vsuse they r not the ones who canceled thr parade.....

Friday, December 20, 2013 at 10:23 AM RB said...

Its so strange how everyone around Wilson had their parade and it the weather wasn't a factor. Next year I think someone besides a volunteer should make that decision

Friday, December 20, 2013 at 6:49 AM Well, that's not good enough said...

The "organizers" of this parade still owe the community some answers.
And since there was no inclement weather, just bad judgement by the "organizers," entrants deserve a 100 percent refund.

Friday, December 20, 2013 at 1:49 AM
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