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City policy stops Black History Month parade

By JR Ortega
Jan. 28, 2014 at 6 p.m.
Updated Jan. 28, 2014 at 7:29 p.m.


IF YOU GO

Black History Month Festival

• WHAT: Food, jewelry, arts and crafts, clothing, home decor and other items will be available to purchase from vendors.

• WHEN: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Feb. 8.

• WHERE: Victoria Community Center, 2905 E. North St.

• COST: Free

No one will be marching down North Street to honor Black History Month because Victoria officials are enforcing a policy that allows use of its barricades only for city-sponsored events.

The Black History Month Steering Committee, which plans and puts on the parade, was unaware of the policy and unable to pay to rent barricades for its Feb. 8 parade, said Nancy Gresham, a committee member.

"It is disappointing, and maybe if we had found out sooner, we could have looked at different options," she said.

The committee had gone through the proper protocol - filling out paperwork with the police department - only to find out about the change.

Victoria city staff is enforcing a policy that city-owned parade barricades can only be used for city-sponsored events such as Bootfest, street dances, Market Days and the holiday parade.

The policy is nothing new, though, said O.C. Garza, city spokesman. What is new is the enforcement of the policy.

The Victoria City Council is expected to discuss the policy Tuesday night, Garza said.

"We'll see what the policymakers have to say about that," he said. "Is it time to review it, look at it - what's driving the policy right now?"

The Victoria Livestock Show parade also was canceled, but to Garza's understanding, it was not solely because of the barricade issue.

Victoria Livestock Show spokeswoman Dian Patterson said last week that another reason the parade was canceled was declining participation.

Garza said he had not heard from the Black History Month Steering Committee about the barricade issue.

Gresham said that in the past 20 years, the parade has been canceled at least once because of bad weather.

Looking at old requests for the barricades, she estimated a need for about 60 barricades to block off the side streets along North Street from Patti Welder School to Ben Wilson Street in front of the Victoria Community Center.

Gresham estimated the cost to rent the barricades would have been more than $1,000, which was not in the committee's budget.

Despite not being able to host the parade, the Black History Month Festival will still go on as planned from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m Feb. 8 at the community center, Gresham said.

"I understand what the city has to do," she said. "They have a rule."

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