Historic City News has received word to cancel Christmas.
Facing more than $6,500 in permit fees and no sign of a Christmas angel, Linda Abbott of St Augustine is giving up, at least for this year, telling reporters that time simply ran out.
The parade has been part of the community for more than 60-years, but interest has waned for parades; and, traffic congestion makes marathon, bicycle races, and other activities that monopolize the streets, less popular with local residents.
At one time the attendance at city parades like Easter, Veterans Day and Christmas, was strong — but in recent years, not so much.
The parade was a natural fit for downtown before shopping malls and online shopping became the standard; a time when the windows of merchants were decorated with Christmas themes on the day after Thanksgiving — the once official first day of the holiday shopping season. The stores were open “late” until 8:00 p.m. or 9:00 p.m. and the streets were bustling with people running errands and delivering gifts. Packages wrapped in bright paper with shiny satin bows could be seen in every doorway along King Street as well as St George Street.
With help from the St Augustine Chamber of Commerce, Santa Claus arrived each year, bringing up the rear of the parade; once drawn by carriage, then later riding in the bucket of a ladder truck courtesy of the St Augustine Fire Department.
Abbott explained in interviews with local sources that construction of the floats and coordinating a battalion of volunteers, finding a source for insurance, arranging for vendors, cleanup and sponsors was just too much to pull together before December 1st.
“Maybe next year,” Abbott told a Jacksonville television reporter. But after producing more than 20 parades herself, its possible the Christmas parade has gone the way of the Days in Spain Fiesta and we’ve retired another nostalgic, local event.