Burbank merchants band together for Holiday in the Park

If shoppers notice a different, more scaled down version of the annual Holiday in the Park event in Magnolia Park on Friday, chalk it up to making do with limited resources.

Nearly 40 merchants in Magnolia Park have banded together to fund the event after a majority of the tenants in the district — primarily non-retail business owners — voted to disband a partnership last September, ending a property tax assessment that brought in hundreds of thousands of dollars for promotions and popular public events.

While organizers didn’t disclose the specific amount raised, it was under $3,000, according to Audrey K, owner of Audrey K Boutique. (She had her last name legally changed to a single letter.)

The tax assessment program kicked in about $28,000 for last year’s event, she added.
However, Holiday in the Park will still have most of the activities and performers that were part of the event last year, Audrey K said, including bands, vintage cars face painters and Santa Claus.

The most expensive part of the event is closing Magnolia Boulevard to traffic, which won’t happen this year.

Most of the money raised was spent on advertising, such as fliers and a street banner promoting the event, Audrey K said.

When organizers began going door-to-door, the response from merchants was initially tepid because when the funding was pulled, “it put a sour taste in their mouth a bit,” said Kevin Stolpe, co-owner of Romancing the Bean, who also helped organize this year’s event.

Audrey K said the road was rough at times because the city didn’t let merchants use the decorations from past holiday events or Santa’s sleigh.

“It was very apparent we were on our own,” she said.
City officials said tough economic times made it impossible to let the merchants borrow the items.

“Previously, the partnership would pay to lease the decorations. Now that the partnership no longer exists, the city of Burbank does not have the resources to assume the responsibility,” said city spokesman Drew Sugars.

The event runs from 5 to 9 p.m. tonight.

-- Mark Kellam, Times Community News

Follow Mark Kellam on Twitter: @LAMarkKellam

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