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By Denny Wittman
Mardi Gras Committee 

Letter to the Editor on Cancellation of Events

 

Last updated 1/10/2021 at 11:57am

Denny Wittman

I have served with several committees that organize the large events in town like Orange Blossom Revue and I am on the Mardi Gras Committee currently. I can understand why the decision to cancel the Christmas parade was made this far out. Large events like this are VERY expensive to put on and take months of planning. The city passed a ban on permits for public events, and until the State and Federal guidelines change, we won't likely see the city change. Protecting the life and health of the City residents will never be a bad decision.

Another part of this decision is that events like the parade, OBR, Pioneer Days and Mardi Gras are dependent on the sponsorships and donations of the businesses in the area who choose to help put these events on. With the economy in the toilet, it's very hard to go to these businesses and ask for donations. Many of them have had to lay off employees or have to reduce their budget for things like this. The companies that support these events are awesome . . . And there are not many of them, and many of them give to multiple events each year. Without the sponsors, we can't afford to pay for events as large as Mardi Gras, Pioneer Days, Orange Blossom Revue etc.

I can tell you that the insurance alone for Mardi Gras is close to $10,000 and Mardi Gras cost nearly $60,000 last year total. To spend money, non-refundable deposits on bands, staging, audio, lighting, insurance and everything else that goes into the event (and then to have to cancel the event) would be financial ruin for these organizations.

While there are many people who would choose to attend events like this or Mardi Gras, there are likely many that wouldn't, which means lost revenue, and the possibility of the event not making the money it needs to make to cover costs. An example of this is the rally for President Trump in Tulsa recently. They planned for 60,000 to 100,000 people. About 6,000 actually showed up.

And most importantly, I feel, is the health and safety of the volunteers that organize these events as well as the public who attend them. These events rely on a small army of people who selflessly give their time each year to provide the residents of the city with an enjoyable and safe celebration. Without them, these events would not happen.

All I can say is that, while it sucks, this too shall pass. Complaining, calling names and acting like angry children doesn't change anything, and certainly doesn't make anything better. Mardi Gras hasn't been canceled yet, but things aren't looking good for any events right now, and our town is not the only town to make these decisions.

Please. Be Kind. Be Respectful. Be Safe and let's start caring for one another . . . Like a small town should.

 

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