As I wrote about in the most recent issue of my premium monthly newsletter, the rumors that started several weeks back have proven to be true (which is pretty rare in The Villages)…all parades with the exception of the Christmas parade have been cancelled going forward.
This means that the Italian, German, and St. Patrick’s Day parades are getting the ax 🙁
As you can see by this poll (mind you, it's a very small sample size) sentiment is split pretty evenly between “Keep the parades – Love them” and “Would not miss them or do not care one way or another”.
In the aforementioned article in The Villages Monthly, I reported that most people I had heard from were from the “not concerned about the parades going away” group, which struck a nerve with at least one reader who wrote:
Retract your unsubstantiated comment about most people not interested in parades or I will start a business to compete with yours and put your lying ass out of business.
Parade lover in the Villages
Now I love a good parade just as much as the next guy or gal. I was simply reporting what I was hearing from people.
I did go on to write that I personally felt the thousands of people involved in the clubs that regularly organize and participate in the parades would strongly disagree. And if the “Greg's” of the world are any indication, one word to describe these folks would be “passionate”.
But no matter which side of the fence you’re on, I think this begs the question of “what’s next to go”?
The parades have long been touted in both print and digital sales materials as “part of life” for those living in The Villages. And while nobody ever bought a home in any community simply because there were parades, they were a part of the “formula” that gives The Villages its “Friendliest Hometown” appeal.
As one of my readers remarked:
My husband and I are planning to move to the Villages as soon as we sell our home in New Hampshire. After reading your article we are wondering what is going on. This is why we want to move to the Villages is for the life style. Wouldn't the amenities fees cover these activities? We where there in October and so enjoyed the German parade. Will they be taking other things away after Brownwood is built out?
The amenities fees fund things like the free golf on the executive courses, the many recreation centers and exercise pools located throughout The Villages, the recreation department responsible for organizing the more than 1,000 activities every week, the upkeep of the private fishing lakes, parks, and fitness trails, as well as the 24 hour neighborhood watch service.
What many prospective residents do not realize is that the amenities fees do not cover things like parades or even the nightly entertainment in the town squares.
The latest issue of the POA Bulletin notes, parades are not the first developer funded activity to be eliminated or reduced in recent years.
Many things such as nightly entertainment are not profitable, and are written off by the developer as an advertising/marketing expense.
There’s no guarantee that they will continue in present form after build out is complete.
Now, would it make sense for owners of businesses located within the town squares to “band” together (pun intended) and find a way to keep things like the free nightly entertainment going?
I think they should and probably will consider doing that when the time comes, but who knows how that will work out or to what extent.
As for the parades, the same thing will likely need to be done. The various groups that organize and participate in the parades will need to figure out how to raise corporate and/or private funds whether through donations or other avenues in order to keep the parades going.
And I think it can happen. We've seen Villagers come together on things like this time and time before. If enough residents want something bad enough, they seem to be able to find a way. Only time will tell if that holds true for the parades.
Over to you. I'm always interested in reading your thoughts, as long as you promise not to try and put me out of business 🙂
What do you think about the parades? “Love 'em” or “leave 'em”? Do you think residents will be able to get them going again in the future, despite a lack of financial support from the developer?
Let me know in the comments below.