Historic City News editor Michael Gold listened as Easter Week Festival committee President Phil Genovar recited a brief history of his work over the past 50-years in volunteer support of St Augustine’s Easter Parade, Royal family, and annual festivities that the local community has grown up with.
Genovar addressed Monday evening’s regular meeting of the St Augustine City Commission during public comments, making an impassioned plea that the City consider exemptions from increased fees for parades that were put into effect this month.
Genovar told the commissioners that parade fees, which have been $25 in previous years, are now as much as $5,000 when you add police, parks and street services. For a non-profit, volunteer organization like the Easter Week Festival, Genovar says it would mean the difference between having an Easter Parade — or not.
Lack of event funding and financial support for the organization of community events like St Augustine’s Easter and Christmas parades, which are not produced by the City, shift the burden to individuals, like Genovar, who are committed to preserving the local traditions that date back to the early 1950’s.
Later in the meeting, Mayor Joseph L. Boles, Jr., and Commissioner Don Crichlow described the parades as “traditional events we ought to subsidize,” and indicated their support for creating some form of waiver.
Before any decision will be made, the commissioners decided to revisit the issue at their July 8 meeting so that they could consider which events might qualify for any exemption from the increased fees.