Ristau: ‘Lame’ parade doesn’t help business

Calling last year’s Christmas parade “lame,” Main Street President Dan Ristau offered some clarity on Friday about what will take place in this year’s edition of the Christmas Walk.

“I’m creating something far more exciting and interesting,” he said.

While Ristau said few specifics have been finalized for the event, he did say, “There would be four areas of things happening… that will naturally pull people.

“I think I’m offering something better.”

“The cost is the least of my concerns,” he explained. Looking at where the Main Street member businesses are located, and trying to bring the parade and potential patrons past a majority of those businesses, at the heart of the Main Street program, has been a challenge.

“The police will not allow me any longer to close off Pennsylvania Avenue and Market or close off Pennsylvania Avenue and the (Hickory Street) bridge…. They do not want these intersections closed off in their entirety.”

He explained that last year’s parade started down Third Avenue, where there were “no businesses for two blocks, so why have the parade?”

The parade last year proceeded down Hickory Street and then west on Pennsylvania Avenue. “I missed all of my major stores,” he said, “and I have gone over and over with other people trying to solve this. I don’t know how else to solve this. I’m stuck trying to resolve this problem. This is the number one headache.

“I’m trying to make the best out of all of this, I just don’t have someone to run a parade,” he added.

He asked for the public’s participation in the new form of the event. “Every event we have put on has turned out hundreds if not a thousand people downtown,” he said. “Based on that track record, people have to trust that if I’m involved that this will be nothing short of anything else that we’ve done… If people would just give it a chance, see how it goes this year, Santa will still be brought in in some grand fashion.”

Ristau, in a story in Wednesday’s Times Observer, also mentioned upwards of $600 in potential fees under the city events policy that could be accrued as an additional reason for calling off the parade.

City Parks and Recreation Director Mary Ann Nau said Friday that the city’s Special Events Committee has not made any final determination on the route or potential costs.

“We didn’t know what he was doing for sure to be able to give him any cost estimate,” she said, adding that the committee was scheduled to meet with Ristau on Nov. 14 to discuss plans for the event.