|By Ryan Hagen, San Bernardino County Sun, Calif.|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
Police, pointing to financial and safety concerns, announced last month that the Ho Ho Parade, a longtime city tradition, was canceled. The parade featured police, firefighters and other volunteers who flashed lights as they drove three separate routes over three consecutive days handing out candy.
But they now say they would instead have two nights of events at
Meanwhile, a group of residents has organized their own version of the parade, which they're calling the Community Ho Ho Parade to differentiate it and allow the police to possibly bring back their event in the future.
That parade will be limited to 25 vehicles, which also are to be driven over three routes in order to cover as much ground as possible. The routes were going to be finalized Wednesday night by a committee of residents associated with neighborhood groups, car clubs and others.
Already, 208 people have joined the "Save Santa's Ho Ho Parade"
"It's not about us," said
That meeting came a day after a group of employees at
"Once I explained all the reasons, they understood why we couldn't do it anymore, at least this year," Burguan said. "We probably just didn't explain everything well enough to the public when we first made the decision."
Contrary to public perception, Burguan said, fuel and incidental expenses weren't the only costs to the parade -- many of the police participating were paid for their time and took time off from their regular duties to avoid going into overtime, something that earned some criticism last year after the city filed for bankruptcy and every dime became contested.
"We have some volunteers, but the ones providing safety have always been compensated," he said.
Also, because it's a not a closed parade route, the law and safety concerns wouldn't allow people riding without seat belts, he said.
"It probably was a great idea in the '70s, but this is a more litigious time," he said. "And if there was an accident and someone was hurt, how would we ever justify that?"
Motorcycle escorts have traditionally blocked streets off as the parade passed, and they'll also be used in the Community Ho Ho Parade this year, said organizer
"We have all kinds of support, and a great thing about it is we're keeping it from getting political," Matley said.
Advocates of the parade say one advantage of covering so much of the city is that it involves children who aren't able to get downtown.
To re-create that, The Way World Outreach is volunteering a bus service that will pick up children from community centers, said Sgt.
Other additions include a contest with Christmas trees as prizes and a Christmas movie, while Santa Claus will also be at