HOUSTON -- It will be “difficult, if not impossible” to rescue the Thanksgiving Day Holiday parade after longtime organizers announced they would no longer produce the event, according to Houston Mayor Annise Parker.
Parker said longtime parade organizers backed the City of Houston in a corner.
"We've been aware of this for some months but they didn't pull the trigger until yesterday, and we couldn't take over a private entity and a private event until they officially let it go," Mayor Parker said.
Parker was referring to the Houston Festival Foundation, which has produced the annual parade for the past 15 years. She said while the City was well aware of the organization’s deep financial troubles, it was handcuffed essentially, while the non-profit kept delaying a public decision to step down.
"There was a hope that someone else would produce the event," said Kimberly Stoilis, CEO of the Houston Festival Foundation.
But holding out hope while the Thanksgiving clock was ticking, was not the nail in the parade coffin according to the Mayor.
"We thought we were in productive discussions with them," Mayor Parker said.
But those discussions in essence, disintegrated when Festival Foundation sold off all of its signature parade floats, including Santa’s sleigh, for cheap. The buyer, the Texas border down of Hidalgo, paid $30,000 for five floats that the foundation paid $130,000 to buy or build.
11 News: "When they sold the floats was that a slap in the face to the City of Houston?
Mayor Parker: “By selling the floats it made it difficult for us to rescue the event, if not impossible."
Parker said the search is on for sponsors, and some corporate leaders have expressed interest. But the price tag is hefty -- up to $500,000 to put on the event.
And time is running out.