The annual Memorial Day parade in downtown Howell will now become a city sponsored event.

Council met Monday night and voted unanimously 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.
At Monday’s meeting, Council agreed it would be appropriate to make the parade a city event again. While the City would fund the parade, it’s anticipated that the American Legion would still organize and run the event but those details will be worked out in coming months.

Mayor Nick Proctor tells WHMI hosting the parade is something the City used to do way back in the day and it’s only fitting the City take over something that recognizes veterans and those who sacrificed their lives in service to the country. He says they’ll be discussing the American Legion and its role but they anticipate having the American Legion again manage and run the parade for the City. Proctor feels the Council action was a good first step and the City will now bear the burden of paying the full cost of the parade, which is around $3,500. Proctor said it’s something he thinks a lot of cities throughout Michigan and throughout the country are doing in that municipalities will recognize their veterans and service members at some event so he feels it’s only fitting that Howell does the same.

It was stipulated during Monday’s meeting that the parade will be the only event that the City sponsors. Some council members raised questions about how the relationship with the American Legion would be managed and how any potential civic event applications would be submitted, which typically covers things like street closures and event logistics. Some members expressed a desire to have any agreement in writing. More Council discussion is expected including with how any civic event application would be submitted and staff was tasked with working out further details. It was noted that the City has sufficient insurance so the parade would fall under that umbrella and it’s not anticipated to be an issue. Proctor noted they want to make sure that there is no huge mission-creep or unanticipated costs. He says the want to keep the parade as it is now; with perhaps some minor tweaks from the American Legion but don’t want to see any huge event cost over-runs. He says the City’s financial stresses caused by Headlee Amendment, Proposal A and the 2008 recession are still here so they have to be careful with any parade-related mission-creep. (JM)