Friday, December 4, 2009

Christmas Parade

Hillary Clinton famously wrote a book and said, “It takes a village to raise a child,” but what does it take to produce a parade? Today was our annual Christmas Parade in Seal Beach; with dozens of volunteers, over 3100 participants and almost a hundred entries, it is a two hour parade which goes quite literally - three blocks. This year, it is estimated to have attracted over 9,000 additional spectators. A joint effort by the Seal Beach Lions, the City of Seal Beach and the Chamber of Commerce, the parade is one of three large events that happen every year.
From a business perspective, the 29th annual parade from a production standpoint would cost well over $10,000 simply for city services, logistics, professional staff and miscellaneous expenses. The all-volunteer leadership team of 5 has billing rates of at least $50/hr in their actual professions. They each have easily spent 50 hours each on the project, and add in the volunteers at minimum wage - say $10 per hour x 4 hours for the evening x 40 volunteers. Before you know it, the volunteer labor is in excess of another $14,000! What about all those lights and media? Add another couple thousand and the amazing volunteer base of SBTV-3. We could say that the costs are in the realm of $30,000 when all is said and done.
The real contribution of dollars in parade entry fees and sponsorship is really never more than $6,000 or so. The Chamber and the volunteers defray the rest of the expenses directly. What is the tangible economic benefit to business? Well, for restaurants and bars, it is likely one of the top five days of the year from profitability standard. Lots of visitors and a willingness to eat and drink with family and friends are abundant. This certainly makes it a win for many businesses.
Scott Newton, parade coordinator and really the architect of the parade, sums it up this way: “The parade shows the region the wonderful community heart and soul right on our Main Street. For that one brief stretch of time, all our neighbors, visitors, residents and businesses wait in delightful anticipation for their loved ones, performers and finally Santa.” Jim Klisanin, who always has a remarkable spread at Baytown Realty on parade night, has been involved for over 25 years. “The parade has never been about making money, it is about the kick off of our holiday season and all of us coming together for Christmas.”
If you look at the entry fees for Belmont Shore’s Christmas Parade, it is $500 for non-members and $400 for those who are. The Seal Beach parade is quite a bit less at $75 for a business entry or $25 for a school, non-profit or Chamber member. Other parades in our region are even more expensive or elaborate. Should we change? I don’t think so.
When all is said and done and the first Friday in December comes around, I for one am happy we have the parade we do. Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, who I drove in the parade and spoke with after I had done my parade ride summed it up quite well: “Seal Beach has kept its small town charm and wholesome values clear for all to see.” Thanks to all of those who made it happen, volunteers, participants, sponsors and spectators – Seal Beach clearly loves a parade!

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