Big Parade is in Jeopardy
The Big Parade, which takes place each year in the spring, has become a much beloved and highly anticipated aspect of college and town life. Therefore, the possibility of the parade’s cancellation this year has evoked strong reactions from students and residents alike.
One of the reasons for a possible cancellation is a simple lack of money. The biggest setback came when a budget proposal to the Student Finance Committee was returned with absolutely no money being given to the Big Parade.
“SFC said to come back in the spring,” said Emily Palmer, college junior and one of the students fighting for the Parade’s survival. “If we can’t get money from SFC, it’s over.”
A new budget proposal is currently being compiled and will be turned in to the SFC for review.
Another obstacle in the way of an ’06 Big Parade is a possible lack of venue in which to create the original floats that appear each year. Previous venues have been the old Buick dealership on College Street and the on-campus ice-skating rink.
As of this year, the Buick dealership has been torn down and the skating rink will likely be under construction during the Parade’s production time. Other locations for float building are currently being investigated.
The day of the Big Parade includes giant floats, a marching band, free food and pie-eating contests.
For College senior Emily Doubilet, the prospect of the Big Parade being cancelled was unacceptable and she quickly became involved in the fight to save the event.
“It was one of those knee-jerk reactions,” said Doubilet. “When I heard it might not happen, I knew I had to do something.”
A general interest meeting was held to gauge student reaction to the probable cancellation and desire for its continued existence. From that meeting emerged a core group of dedicated students, and the momentum generated by their participation is expediting the effort to save the parade.
Executive Director of the Oberlin Area Chamber of Commerce Marcus Fowler believes that the town at least will support the parade’s occurrence.
“The Chamber of Commerce recommended that city council approve the event,” said Fowler. “But the council makes the ultimate decision.”
Fowler’s office has advised that $1000 be set aside to fund the festival.
The Big Parade’s supporters in both the town and the College value the event not only for its high enjoyment factor but its usefulness in building community spirit in Oberlin.
“It is one of the only days that the town and college come together,” said Palmer. “It takes down a lot of the barriers and brings everyone together in a common space.”
Former organizer and alum Allison Shauger, OC ’05, acknowledged that it’s a lot of work but considers that to be part of the event’s value.
“Part of the beauty of the Big Parade is that so many people pull together and do what they’re good at to make it happen,” said Shauger. “It’s amazing.”
Although the Big Parade’s status is still unclear, the core organizers seem determined that it won’t go down without a fight.
“Parades add sparkle to everyday life,” Doubilet concluded.