It was bad luck for the Natchitoches Christmas Festival parade, which was cancelled last year, Dec. 3, due to a singular event, a rain out.
“In all my years as a young boy going to the parade, I’ve never seen a 100 percent cancellation,” said Christmas Festival Director Lee Waskom.
He said the Historic District Business Association (HDBA) is blessed with this year’s turnout, which could have been a significant loss had they not planned ways to mitigate revenue loss when bad weather strikes. The HDBA released the financial report for the Christmas Festival Feb. 8.
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“In all my years of doing this, I’ve never imagined a scenario where the whole festival day would be lost,” said Waskom. “We usually just have to delay the parade.
That’s what happened in 2013 when an ice storm impacted attendance, but the parade still rolled down Front Street.
“I thought 2013 was a bad year, but I was wrong,” he said.
Waskom said what could have been a $150,000 loss for the festival turned out to be $53,911. He attributes this to the HDBA deemphasizing putting all their eggs in one basket for the main festival weekend. Charging admission on Thanksgiving weekend helped bring in more revenue. The ticket system implemented a few years ago helped also, according to Waskom. Also, being able to cancel some of the entertainment saved money.
One of the parade participants, the 610 Stompers from New Orleans, only charged the festival half of what they were originally supposed to be paid in an effort to help.
While approximately $125,000 was lost overall in arm band sales, there was $23,000 additional revenue brought in by gating Thanksgiving weekend.
Ultimately, the decision to cancel the parade was done for the safety of the participants. However, the HDBA is proud of the fact that they were able to pay 50.23 percent of the total revenue from the festival directly into the community. The amount, $296,526, included local non-profits, local riverbank vendors, local security and personnel, local business and entertainers paid for services and festival lighting enhancements and CEA.