Merchant group says it'll organize event for Nov. 29

It looks like Crescent City will get a Christmas parade and tree-lighting ceremony after all.

A group of downtown merchants has stepped in after downtown Business Improvement District board members said they wouldn't host a parade this year due to limited funds.

The group has received donations of seven to eight trees of various sizes, according to Cindy Speakman, owner of Del Norte Travel.

The business owners have obtained city permission for the permit and have the insurance to cover it, according to Diana Tomasini, owner of the Enchanted Florest on Third Street. They also have a Santa Claus. Justin Hall, a local wrestling and football coach, has volunteered to play Santa.

The parade is scheduled for Nov. 29 at 5:30 p.m. Tomasini and Speakman said they are still reaching out to businesses and community organizations beyond the downtown area to help make it memorable.

"We welcome anybody with ideas, stuff, time, money, lights and ornaments to donate," Tomasini said.

BID has sponsored the parade since 1993 and took over the Christmas tree-lighting ceremony in the early 1990s, according to BID spokeswoman Cheryl Corpstein. With advertising, trophies for top entries, portable toilets and a stage, putting on the parade on can cost about $900, she said.

But after collecting only $1,600 in voluntary assessments from a handful of downtown businesses, the organization's board decided there wasn't enough money to host the parade.

That decision came months after the Crescent City Council decided against mandatory BID assessments for downtown business owners in the face of angry opposition.

Tomasini, who spoke before the Council in June during the discussion about the BID assessments, said she felt the organization should not be in the business of putting on the parade. Businesses and organizations from all over Crescent City should be included in planning the parade, she said.

"The parade should be something that is growing," she said. "This has the potential to do that."

Speakman said many downtown business owners didn't know the parade wasn't happening until they read it in the Triplicate. She said she wanted to open the parade up to anyone who wanted to participate, even if he or she didn't fill out an entry form.

"Even if you don't want to sign up, if you still want to take a baby in a stroller and walk in the parade, come on down," Speakman said. "There is no reason this can't be done on a volunteer basis."

Tomasini said she and the other parade coordinators are still looking for lights to hang on the trees. At a meeting Thursday, the group discussed setting up a winter wonderland with a Santa Claus house in the middle.

Participants also discussed reaching out to local youth sports organizations to get them to sell chili or hot chocolate.

While the parade will begin at 5:30 p.m., Christmas activities, including pictures with Santa Claus, are expected to continue until later in the evening.

For more information about how to participate in the parade, call Cindy Speakman at 464-9526.

Reach Jessica Cejnar at