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Santa Claus Parade in financial shortfall

The Fort Macleod Santa Claus Parade is facing a cash crunch.
The committee organizing Fort Macleod’s showcase event has raised less than half of what it needs to meet expenses, and the parade is just 10 days away on Saturday, Nov. 30.
Santa Claus Parade co-ordinator Sue Risser is hopeful Fort Macleod businesses, groups and organizations open their hearts — and wallets even though the community is in the economic doldrums.
“Let’s say we’re still a strong community, we love Fort Macleod, we love our parade,” Risser said.
The committee last year spent $35,366 to stage the Santa Claus Parade and expenses are projected to be the same in 2013.
So far, donations total just $17,000, and the committee does not have the remaining $18,000 in reserves.
“Our surplus is dwindling quickly,” Risser said. “We’ve had to go into our surplus every single year since 2010.”
In 2010 donations totalled $24,291. That amount climbed to $27,470 in 2011 but dropped to $20,278 last year and just $17,000 this year.
The committee’s biggest expense is for the bands. Last year the committee spent $23,073 on transportation, food and a $250 honorarium for the bands.
“Our bands are the biggest cost and that’s what people demand,” Risser said.
It will cost the committee $5,100 to bring the Calgary Round Up Band to Fort Macleod and $3,900 for the Calgary Stampede Band. It will cost another $3,821 to get the Calgary Stetsons Band here.
“That just pays for their busing,” Risser said.
The only compensation bands receive is a $250 honorarium and a free meal.
“We have talked about cutting back on the bands,” Risser said. “Nobody wants to do that, because the bands are a big draw.”
The committee’s other big expense is advertising. It spends more than $8,300 on television, radio and newspaper advertising as well as flyer distribution.
“That may seem like a lot to some people but it really isn’t,” Risser said, noting the parade benefits from considerable free publicity in return for the money it invests in advertising. “Really, I don’t think that is too much to spend on advertising.”
The committee spends another $3,559 on miscellaneous expenses such as souvenir mugs, small gifts for volunteers and office supplies.
Risser said unless the community is willing to beef up donations the committee in future will have to reduce the number of bands and cut other costs.
“I almost feel like our parade is outgrowing our small community and our economy,” Risser said. “You can’t blame people for not donating like they used to. Things are tight around here.”
The parade committee gets $5,000 from the Town of Fort Macleod, meaning other donations this year total just $12,000.
The Order of the Eastern Star alone has contributed $4,000 to the parade.
“The community loves the parade,” Risser said. “The parade is put on by the people. It’s amazing that a parade this big is funded by this small community.”
Risser also noted just 56 entries have been registered for the parade, including just 13 from Fort Macleod businesses.
“That’s the lowest I’ve ever had by this time of year,” Risser said.
“I hate to say the parade has outgrown Fort Macleod, but we’ve got to find a balance somehow.”
To make a donation or to register an entry in the parade, phone Sue Risser at 403-715-2125.