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Burbank on Parade in jeopardy after 22 years

Tim Willert

After nearly two decades at the helm of Burbank on Parade, its

organizers have decided to call it quits, claiming a lack of

cooperation on the part of the city, which subsidizes the annual

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event.

Parade board members announced their decision to “cease organizing

and conducting” the April parade effective Nov. 18 in a letter to

city officials, a copy of which was obtained by the Leader.

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“We have come to this decision after 22 years of successful and

enjoyable celebrations for several reasons, one of which is lack of

support,” the letter stated. “Ironically, many of the obstacles we

faced throughout the years came from city departments who were

responsible for ‘assisting’ us, specifically Licensing and Park and

Recreation, who found more ways to hinder us rather than help us

accomplish our objectives.”

City Manager Mary Alvord and Vice Mayor Marsha Ramos reacted with

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surprise and disappointment at the letter, which reached City Hall on

Tuesday. Both said they would be willing to sit down with the board

to discuss the allegations, but need more facts.

“I am completely surprised, because I had no knowledge that they

were even thinking about [this],” Ramos said late Tuesday.

Alvord, meanwhile, fired back at board members, who met with her

Nov. 3 to discuss their intentions. At the time, she said, members

spoke of “burnout” and other issues mostly unrelated to claims made

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in the letter as reasons for stepping down.

“What upsets me at this point is what was portrayed to me a couple

of weeks ago is very different from what I’m hearing about now,” said

Alvord, referring to the letter. “When they finally publicly announce

[their decision], a lot of this is about casting blame at the city

when in fact, I think, we have worked very hard to make the parade a

success at substantial monetary cost to the city.”

Parade founder Sandy Dennis and fellow board member Dennis Hooper

initially declined to comment on the specifics of their decision to

disband. When pressed about the details of the letter, they remained

tight-lipped.

“The people who have organized the parade have made their

decision,” Dennis said Tuesday. “We encourage a group who would like

to take it over. We are happy to work with any group or the city who

would like to do it.”

Hooper, meanwhile, said the city has requested a meeting to

discuss “specific problems with the licensing and park and rec

department,” but said such talks likely won’t save the 2004 parade.

“Nope, because it’s too late to get it started,” he said. “We

would be well into planning the parade by now if we were going to do

it next year.”

A separate letter, signed by the parade board of directors and

including the names and e-mail addresses of City Council members, was

e-mailed to the Leader on Monday for publication.

“We feel it is the best interest of those of you who have

supported the event to let you know this decision as soon as

possible,” the letter stated. “If you would like to see this event

continue, we strongly suggest you contact the members of the Burbank

City Council. Without input from the community and given the current

budget situation, this event may just go away.”

The April parade -- which travels along Olive Avenue from Keystone

to Lomita streets -- features city officials, youth bands and drill

teams, equestrian entries and representatives from local

organizations.

“It’s not the Tournament of Roses, but it is what our community is

about,” Alvord said of the parade. “We have to look at all sides of

the issues, and we’re willing to do that. Certainly, we will be a

part of that dialogue to keep it alive.”

The city, which appropriated $15,000 for last year’s parade,

provides additional support from the police, public works, and park,

recreation and community services departments. Approximately $13,500

has been budgeted for April’s parade -- a 10% reduction over last

year -- but the money remains in city hands, city officials said.

Don Baldaseroni, a board member who serves on the transportation

and hospitality committees, is among those who won’t continue

organizing the parade. Baldaseroni also volunteers his time with

other community groups, including the Burbank Historical Society,

Burbank Heritage Commission and the Road Kings.

“I have a lot on my plate,” he said. “The parade is an

institution. It just gets harder to get people involved.”

Entertainment Editor

Joyce Rudolph contributed

to this report.


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