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City of Elgin and the Fire Department Christmas Parade

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I felt the need to address this because there has been so much misinformation spread about the reason the Fire Department Christmas Parade will be held in McDade instead of Elgin this year (as it was last year as well) as far as the City of Elgin is concerned.

Let me start by saying my intention is not to spread blame against anyone or any organization, but to make clear the City of Elgin’s role and requirements for any parade permit received. I also want to ensure that everyone is aware that this is no knock on McDade whatsoever.

For a number of years, the Elgin Fire Department has sponsored and coordinated an absolutely wonderful lighted Christmas Parade in December. Elgin residents have looked forward to participating in or watching the parade as part of their holiday celebrations.

In 2020, the EFD Parade Committee made the decision to move their parade to McDade. These decisions were made before I became Mayor but I know Mayor Cannon was a strong proponent of the Fire Department as I currently am. Because I was not there at that time, I will not address 2020 parade.

So now, I lead with this question: Why in the world would the City of Elgin not want this fine parade to be held in Elgin in 2021? Why? There is no answer because there is no reason the City would not want it here.

What does any group wanting to sponsor a parade in the City have to do? They have to fill out an application with the City to inform the when, where, and how the parade they want will occur. With back-and-forth communication between the parties, a plan is then composed for the parade to happen and be safe and successful.

No matter what anyone thinks, parades are not free. The parade route has to be approved, streets closed, intersections blocked, security provided etc. This involves many of the City staff (police officers, roads crew, etc.) to work directly for the parade. All parades, but especially night time parades include the City paying overtime to many of these employees. To be fiscally responsible, the city projects all the costs associated with holding the parade. That is what we should do so we know where the City’s money is being spent. For an example, let’s say the cost is $2,000. We then present those costs to the parade applicant.

We also let them know that they have the option to appear before the City Council and ask for those fees to be waived. That is exactly what the Western Day parade committee does. That is exactly what the Juneteenth parade committee does. And that is exactly what the Fire Department had done, most recently in 2019. The Council has that option and has waived those fees for parades presented by a local non-profit group that would benefit a majority of our citizens.

So, even though the City of Elgin received no parade application at all for 2021, please know the City would love to have our much valued and much appreciated Fire Department sponsor their fine Christmas Parade here once again.