Here’s Why the City of Hallowell, Maine, Just Canceled the Annual Halloween Parade
Is it just me, or does it seem like ever since we emerged on the other side of COVID that cities and towns are doing more to get their residents out and involved in community activities?
Perhaps it's just my perception because of how many things DIDN'T happen while the pandemic was in full force, but either way you look at it, there are still a number of things that are going on all year long in Central Maine and beyond.
One of those things is parades. From the Augusta Fourth of July Parade to the annual Hallowell Pride Parade, there is always a reason to line up your chairs and wait for the slew of floats and entertainers to pass you by. Sadly, one of those parades has been called off.
But why would a city known for its epic celebrations just up and cancel one? The short answer is, insurance. According to the Kennebec Journal, the annual Halloween Parade is only one of about four parades that can be found coming down the Hallowell streets each year.
However it has recently been brought up that the City Council in Hallowell has not required the organizers of these events to obtain liability insurance. Basically, the council doesn't make the people in charge of the events get insurance to cover the city's butt in the event that something were to go catastrophically wrong. And, though that's unlikely, it's a risk that officials aren't willing to take anymore.
City Manager, Gary Lamb, told the Kennebec Journal in part,
“So many (organizers of) public events, including past parades, assumed that they were insured by the city, but it’s not true. We got very clear direction from our insurers that unless the City Council appoints the board for the organizing group, or the funds go through the city’s books, we are not supposed to be insuring any public event.”
City resident, organizer of the event and board chair of the Hallowell Board of Trade, Roger Pomerleau, said in part,
“No municipality anywhere should risk an event without insurance. If they sign off on a permit, they are a party to it, and if something happens, they can be legally held liable. It’s tough to find suitable insurers — they have demands, and coverage is not always adequate,”.
So what happens next? Well, the path isn't exactly clear, but it looks like the Hallowell City Council will need to enact new rules moving forward that regulate things like parades and other large gatherings held within city limits. But for now, at least, no Halloween Parade this year.