The City of Howell is continuing work to finalize a contract agreement related to the annual Memorial Day parade.

In June, Council voted to establish the parade as a city-sponsored event in future years. Faced with budget challenges, Council earlier approved a new policy instituting a 50% cost-sharing mechanism to recoup expenses the city incurs for hosting events. The parade is put on annually by the American Legion Devereaux Post 141 in Howell and there was some community pushback about the fee, considering the significance of the event in recognizing veterans and their service. Community donations and others from City officials covered the parade fee for the American Legion this past May and the event was well attended. While the City is now funding the parade, the American Legion will still organize and run the event and those details are being worked out. Interim City Manager Erv Suida delivered an update at a recent Council meeting. He told WHMI they’re currently working on an agreement so that the parade will be a city event but logistically ran by the American Legion. Suida says they will run the event like they always have and it will be the same great parade honoring veterans - it will just be a city funded parade. He says they met with representatives from the Legion and worked out some of the language in the agreement. He says they’ll finalize that and then provide it to the American Legion and Council for their respective final approvals.

During the meeting, some points were raised by Mayor Pro-Tem Steve Manor that he requested be taken into consideration when working out language with legal counsel. Manor stressed he didn’t want to cause any controversy but felt it was the appropriate time to bring it up. As the parade is now a city-sponsored event, he questioned if organizations had greater legal authority to demand to participate. Manor said "we live in some pretty volatile times these days" and other communities have had controversy related to who marches in a parade so he wants to make sure any agreement has protections in place and spells out expectations. Attorney Dennis Perkins said permission would have to be granted before someone comes in to march in the parade and thinks the City has a right to choose who marches in the parade, which is set up for service members. Staff noted that the American Legion has no intention of changing the parade, which is about veterans - not politics or anything else. Should any significant changes develop, they would have to go to Council for approval. (JM)