MARYSVILLE — The Merrysville for the Holidays Winter Celebration will go on as usual Dec. 5, but a popular part of the event will be conspicuous by its absence.
The Electric Lights Parade, a highlight of the celebration for the past 10 of its 20 years, had to be dropped from the city-run event this year because of budget constraints.
The parade has featured floats, decorated vehicles, Santa Claus and people just walking down State Avenue. Community groups and nearby cities usually entered floats, city parks director Jim Ballew said. Ironically, last year set a record with 32 floats in the parade, he said.
The city did not enter its own float but spent a minimum of $3,200 to $3,800 in overtime for police and firefighters to provide security for the parade, Ballew said.
“If weather is an issue, it’s more,” he said, because public works and street crews also have to be on the clock.
While avoiding the wholesale cuts and layoffs experienced by the county and other cities recently, Marysville still has had to trim the budget to balance the books.
“We had to start looking at areas and that was one that unfortunately landed on the floor,” Ballew said. City officials considered trying to find a sponsor for the event but ran out of time, he said.
Ballew said he hopes the city can restore the parade next year.
Another popular event, the “touch-a-truck” day in the summer when children can board city vehicles, also fell victim to the budget paring knife, City Council president Jeff Seibert said.
“Unfortunately, with the budget, we had to cut about $4 million out,” he said.
The 21st annual holiday celebration, planned for 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Dec. 5 at Comeford Park in downtown Marysville, still will include all its other features. Live music, arts and crafts, treats and hot drinks, a bonfire and, at 7 p.m., the lighting of the water tower are planned.
A new feature this year expands on past opportunities for photos with Santa and Mrs. Claus by adding new backdrops such as the Grinch, an electric car, a forest scene and more. People can bring their own cameras, and a professional photographer will be on-site as well, Ballew said.
He said regular parade participants have been understanding about its elimination this year.
“They get it and they like the idea that we’re continuing the event,” he said.
Bill Sheets: 425-339-3439, firstname.lastname@example.org.