End Of An Era?

Santa Claus is still coming to town.

However, he will not be preceded by floats and marching units.

There will be no parade at this year’s annual Christmas Walk.

Warren Main Street Manager Dan Ristau announced Wednesday the decision to forego a parade.

Ristau said the event can be successful without the parade. “It went on for years without a parade,” he said.

He said he is not concerned that attendance will drop without the parade. With living window scenes, live music, theatrical, and other entertainment, and hot food and drinks, he expects a good crowd. “It’s like a street festival.”

Instead of the parade directing attention to different areas, the downtown area may be split up into four primary areas for the event – the central fountain area, Liberty Street, Pennsylvania Avenue between Liberty and Market Street, and Pennsylvania west of Hickory Street.

“All the businesses will decorate on their own,” he said.

The guest of honor will arrive. How exactly he will arrive remains a surprise.

“Santa will still be brought in some grand fashion,” he said.

Ristau gave several reasons for dropping the parade.

One is that the parade struggles to draw units. “The parade has never been optimal,” Ristau said. “So many people are involved in so many things at that time of year.”

Main Street would have to pay the City of Warren in order to hold the parade. “With the new city ordinances, we are now faced with paying for the required services,” Ristau said. Those additional services and costs kick in for the parade due to the need for closing intersections, he said. He estimated those costs at $600.

Finally, Ristau said the parade does not provide equal benefit to downtown businesses. “I cannot service all of my Main Street businesses,” he said. “These events are put on to bring attention to the businesses.”

“We ask our businesses to support these things,” Ristau said. “It’s my job to make sure it’s as inclusive as possible.” While that is not the deciding factor, “it’s part of the overall decision process.”

It is possible that a parade could be part of future Christmas Walks. “We’ll do it this year and see how it works,” Ristau said.