BOWLING GREEN—The town’s Christmas parade is at 5 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 14, and town officials are looking at charging some parade entrants a $10 fee to help cover costs.
The Bowling Green Town Council discussed the matter during the council’s monthly meeting on Thursday at the request of Town Manager Stephen Manster. Janis Albuquerque, the town’s new business development specialist/events coordinator, had just told councilors that she needs volunteers for the parade.
That’s when Manster said, “We need to recover our costs—maybe through a small entry fee for each entrant in the parade.” This could be a $10 entry fee “to help with the cost of advertising and the application process,” he noted. This could apply to each “dump truck, Girl Scout troop and so on.”
Manster was asked if 40 entrants paid $10 and generated $400, would that cover the costs, and Manster said no. The parade typically has 70 entrants.
“You really want to charge the fire department?” asked Councilor Jason Satterwhite, a captain with the Bowling Green Volunteer Fire Department.
Albuquerque questioned whether the town should charge public safety entrants, such as police, fire and rescue vehicles.
Mayor David Storke, owner of Storke Funeral Home, noted that businesses place floats or vehicles in the parade for public relations and advertising. “I’ve put horse-drawn hearses in the parade, and I do it for P.R.,” he said.
Albuquerque suggested that the town could charge entrants “who are looking for a trophy.”
“Let’s let the parade committee work this out,” the mayor said, and councilors agreed.
This will be Bowling Green’s fourth year to have an evening Christmas parade, Manster said. It’s at night because other localities have their parades during the day on the same day.
In other business, the council agreed to meet at 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 20. The town’s Economic Development Authority will meet at 6 p.m. the same day.
In other business, Albuquerque said she wants to have a meeting in December to find out “what you want Bowling Green to be,” she told councilors. “Everybody has a point of view but they are not all the same. This is for branding and marketing. I want everybody to come up with objectives everybody can agree on.”
In January, Albuquerque plans to have a “business 101 training” breakfast for shop owners. She will also ask business owners for their perspective of the town and where it needs to be headed.
The town recently hired Albuquerque to improve the business climate and attract new business to Bowling Green and help existing businesses to be sustainable and viable. She has a background in marketing, event planning, graphic design and social media.
The town was hurt when the 207 Bypass opened in the early 1990s and the traveling public didn’t come through town anymore.
Another blow to the town’s economy occurred when Union Bankshares outgrew its Main Street building and merged with First Market Bank and moved its 80 employees to Carmel Church. No longer were those employees eating lunch in town, shopping or dropping off clothes for dry cleaning.
In other activity, Kathryn Burchell and Melissa Lewis, members of Caroline’s Order of Eastern Star, asked the council to consider having future Ladies Night Out events on a Friday, rather than the third Thursday of the month. That’s because Eastern Star has met on the third Thursday of the month for 50 years. They noted that Ladies Night would have better attendance if the date was changed. This year’s Ladies Night Out is scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 21.
Last year, Ladies Night Out was in the Town Hall and it offered items from skilled local artists and crafters, gift boutiques, party demonstrations, wine and hors d’oeuvres, door prizes, a Chinese auction, various raffles, and a silent auction of decorated Christmas trees provided by local charities. Artists, crafters, vendors, merchants, and charities came from Caroline County and the surrounding area.