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Letter: Parade problems need addressing

To the Editor:

As someone who was born and raised in New Richmond, I have always been proud of the hospitality and organization of the Fun Festival Parade. When I was a member of the New Richmond Marching Tigers, I knew there was something special about our parade, but it wasn't until I became a band director that I realized the acclaim of this annual event.

Directors from the area credit New Richmond for setting the standard for excellent parade organization, competition and entertainment. Many have copied the protocol for the Fun Fest Parade in hopes of boosting their attendance and bottom line; but most communities just can't seem to piece together the network of committed parents, volunteers and civic groups necessary for such a grand event. Sadly, New Richmond has now joined the ranks of the mundane, unsafe, and disorganized. Many parades fall into this category, but I never thought it would occur in New Richmond. What happened?

The most prestigious marching band competition around was suddenly canceled. There was not an announcers stand in place to introduce the visiting royalty, floats and bands. Safety barricades were not in place to protect visiting bands. Portable restrooms were too far away for practical use, especially since roads were not properly secured. The band concert and awards ceremony presented by the renowned Marching Tigers was cancelled and the New Richmond Band Boosters were noticeably absent. Were they told that their services would no longer be needed or did they simply decide that they did not want to participate? I can only guess.

On a positive note, the spectators in New Richmond are the best. They are a highly sophisticated group that always show support and enthusiasm for visiting bands. Friendly smiles and words of encouragement are commonly heard throughout the route. My students love New Richmond and look forward to this parade every year. Unfortunately, I will not take students to a parade where safety and hospitality is so flagrantly ignored by parade organizers.

I am hopeful that changes can be made and that the New Richmond Parade can reclaim its place among the most hospitable and prestigious events in Wisconsin. Until then, all the best with your future endeavors.

Dan Hopkins

Comstock (Cumberland)