Doughman says higher security, cleanup costs, loss of sponsors force fee increase
***image1**Applications to participate in Dallas’ Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade are now online. But Dallas Tavern Guild Executive Director Michael Doughman noted this week that entry fees for the parade have gone up as the Tavern Guild tries to cover the increasing costs of producing the event while at the same time making up lost revenue from lost corporate sponsorship.
This year’s parade is set for Sunday, Sept. 20, at 2 p.m.
"We did have to increase fees this year. Our for-profit, business and corporate rates have gone up, but we did manage to avoid increasing the rates for nonprofit organizations," Doughman said.
The majority of the cost increase has come from the increase in security during the parade and the after-event cleanup required by the city, he said.
Security includes not only the officers necessary to police the parade route and control traffic, but also the barricades needed to block off streets and keep spectators out of the street as the parade passes by and barricades and signage on adjacent streets to help route traffic around the stretch of Cedar Springs Road where the parade takes place, Doughman said.
"That has all become much more expensive each year," he added.
Because of problems with other events, especially the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade on Greenville Avenue, the city has also implemented much more stringent cleanup requirements, he said.
"With an event the size of our parade, the cleanup is considerable," Doughman said. "It is pretty scary to go out after the parade has passed and see that ankle-deep trash along the street. We have to get all that cleaned up not just for the sake of the city’s requirements, but also for the merchants along the strip who will be open for business come Monday morning and don’t want their customers to have to wade through that."
Doughman said the Tavern Guild has a crew that cleans the street immediately after the parade, and then again early the next morning.
"We get the streets pretty clean by 6 or 7 o’clock on Sunday evening. But the parade always draws a huge crowd, lots of people from out of town, and the bars are always packed that evening, which means a lot more trash on the streets by the end of the night," he said. "So that requires a second complete cleaning on Monday morning, which adds significantly to the cost of the parade."
And as the costs rise, Doughman continued, the ongoing economic recession has caused some previous sponsors to withdraw.
"We had a couple of banks in years past that were sponsors that aren’t any more. Washington Mutual is out of business, and Citibank has had problems. A lot of our corporate money has dried up," he said.
"The bottom line is, we have to have a parade. It is an important day for our community. So we have to do what’s necessary to pay for it," Doughman said.
"When the economy turns around and we get some of our sponsors back, maybe then we can roll back the fees. But our No. 1 commitment is to have the money we need to put the parade on."
The theme for the Dallas parade this year is "Your Rights. Our Rights. Human Rights. — A Celebration of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Pride." It is, Doughman said, the same as the international Pride theme for this year.
Applications are available for download online at both www.DallasTavernGuild.org and at www.DallasPrideParade.com. Application deadline is Aug. 7, although late applications will be accepted through Aug. 14 for an additional fee.
But the number of parade entries, not including entries for the color guard, grand marshals, participating elected officials and so on, is limited to 80, and no entries at all will be accepted after Aug. 14, Doughman said.
He said the 80-entry limit is enforced to ensure that the parade is finished within the two-hour time limit set by the city. In another time-saving measure, entries are no longer allowed to stop and perform in front of the judges booth. Instead, those who want to compete for the performance trophy can do so in a pre-parade event.
"We try to keep it moving, and we have had good luck getting the parade down the street by 4 o’clock. That’s our goal," he said.
The same deadlines apply for booths at the festival in Lee Park following the parade. But Doughman said those whose parade entry or festival booth have special requirements should get their applications in as early as possible. Parade placement and booth locations are determined on a first-come, first-served basis.
Parade entry fees are: $150 for nonprofit organizations; $300 for local for-profit organizations or businesses; $400 for Dallas-based corporate employee groups; and $850 for national or franchised businesses based outside of Dallas. There are additional fees for parade entries that need an additional 50-foot space in the line-up ($150), and for entries that want to throw or distribute approved items ($150).
The late fee for applications postmarked after Aug. 8 is $250.
Vendor booth fees for the festival in Lee Park are $100 for a 10-foot-by-10-foot space for nonprofit organizations, or $50 more for an additional 10-foot-by-10-foot space; and $250 for a 10-foot-by-10-foot space for for-profit businesses, or $150 more for an additional 10-foot-by-10-foot space. There is a $150 late fee for applications postmarked after Aug. 8.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition April 24, 2009.