St. Augustine, FL–a quaint tourist town who often charts the tops of lists for its spectacular display lights during the holidays–woke up to terrible news on November 6th. The St. Augustine Record broke the news that the annual Christmas parade had been canceled. Santa was not going to visit the nation’s oldest city on the back of a red firetruck because the green grinch stole it–er, the green was not here. That is, the nearly $7,000 needed from sponsorships was nowhere to be found.
The news spread like rapid fire across social media and crushed household after household. “This is horrible!” commented one local on the Record’s social media post. “This is a family tradition since I was a kid, now the Christmas Season doesn’t officially start with my own kids until we see Santa ride in on the fire truck! Can we do anything?!?? Raise money for the fees?!?” “(It’s a) shame for all the kids who look forward to it every year,” commented another.
“It was so sad to hear from our Extension Services Manager that the parade was canceled, and to pass that news onto the community,” said Alexandra Phillips, Youth Services Librarian at the local public library (and also a St. Augustine Moms Blog writer). She had already begun coordinating this year’s float team, theme, and decorations for the bookmobile’s position in the parade.
The disappointment, concern, and suggestions kept rolling in from keyboard warriors. The first post about the cancellation quickly hit over 300 shares and over 500 angry and sad “reactions” on Facebook. Meanwhile, there was action taking place offline. Around 10 p.m. that night, local community leaders started buzzing one another and phones were ringing off the hook until early in the morning. Linda Abott, who has been running the parade since the early ‘90s, had an outpouring of help after the Record ran her heart-wrenchingly defeated quote, “Basically I haven’t been able to find a sponsor or sponsors…It’s been my heart for 21 years.”
“It takes a village” is the old adage that all parents are familiar with. Well, for Abott’s “baby”, an entire Christmas village showed up! The parade was sponsored largely by Bozard Ford in the past. This year, it will be sponsored by several companies who have banded together. (We will update with those sponsors as soon as a press release announces.)
“We were all overjoyed when we found out the parade was rescued and all plans for our Where the Wild Things Are theme (for the library’s bookmobile float) were back on!” said Phillips when she heard the news.
Thanks to actions and pockets of these community donors and leaders, the 64th annual Christmas Parade has been saved! The children will get to catch their magical glimpse of Santa on Dec. 2 at 9 a.m. The route is reported to start at The Mission, continue along the bayfront and end at Orange Street.
Let us all show up with our families and celebrate the magic that was almost taken away because of …well, money. Like the Whos in Whoville, let’s focus on the spirit of Christmas while thanking our community sponsors for their giving hearts.