Future of Houston's annual Thanksgiving Day Parade in jeopardy

Houston's annual Thanksgiving Day Parade may be in jeopardy due to funding issues

August 8, 2013 2:39:56 PM PDT
A Houston tradition, the annual Thanksgiving Day parade, could be coming to an end due to problems with funding. The organization that produces the event says it takes a half a million dollars each year to make it happen, and donations to help have fallen off.

About 400,000 of you pack the streets of downtown Houston each Thanksgiving to watch the floats and performers in the holiday parade. But now that controversial decision has some people wondering if the tradition has come to an end.

It's a parade that's been part of a Houston tradition since 1949 -- the annual holiday parade, circling downtown each Thanksgiving. Thoughts about the parade still excite moms like Houstonian Fayla Curry.

"I actually performed in it, back when I was in high school. I was on the drill team," she recalled. "So, it's kind of an important part of my childhood."

But now the holiday parade's future is in serious jeopardy. The nonprofit group that has served as the parade's producers for years publicly announced this week that it's walking away from the large annual event.

"These are not personal decisions, these are business decisions," explained Kim Stoilis, President and CEO of the Houston Festival Foundation.

Stoilis says, in December, the nonprofit's board decided it could no longer afford to organize the parade which costs the group about $500,000 to produce annually. Stoilis says the Houston Festival Foundation has already sold $300,000 worth of floats to the city of Hidalgo, and the group has had to let go three of its employees.

Stoilis said, "When we saw the interest in funding for the parade begin to dwindle, now over several years, at a certain point, you know, we had to have discussions about is this the right thing for our organization anymore."

Stoilis says the city and its key sponsors urged the Festival Foundation to avoid making a public announcement while the parties searched for someone else to take on the parade. So far, Stoilis says no one has stepped up.

Still, Houstonians like Fayla Curry are remaining optimistic about the holiday parade's future.

She said, "Somebody's got the money to put it on. Somebody's got to find a way to make it happen, because it's important."

The mayor's office says it's in discussions to determine whether the holiday parade can be saved.

Find Demond on Facebook at ABC13DemondFernandez or on Twitter at @demondfernandez

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