SPRINGFIELD — After almost 65 years, Springfield won’t be having a Christmas parade this year.
Marilee Woodrow, chairwoman of the Springfield Community Parade Corp., the parade’s longtime organizer, has been at the helm for the past 14 years and has been involved with the event for 18 years, she said while announcing the cancellation Wednesday.
She said it was a lack of volunteers, not money, that forced her to break the news to the dozen or so people who had been involved trying to pull off this year’s effort, despite the growing realization that time was running out while the task list wasn’t getting any shorter nor the roster of volunteers getting any longer.
The parade was scheduled for Dec. 2, with the theme “Christmas All Over the World,” and she said that she wept at having to cancel a parade that had launched Springfield’s Christmas celebration for generations. Any money for entries will be refunded, she said.
She said she realized Wednesday that the parade wasn’t going to happen this year.
“We just lost momentum,” she said. “We lost volunteers through attrition.” She said the cancellation was the culmination of five years of declining participation.
She said planning for the annual event, which featured about 110 entries last year, begins in January and continues all year, resolving permitting, logistics, mapping, outreach with the people who have entries, communication and a myriad of other tasks that culminate with a parade the first Saturday in December.
The event, Dubbed “The Oldest and Coldest Christmas Parade in Oregon,” has for generations kicked off Springfield’s Christmas celebration and been a part of other community Christmas programs.
Typically cold, sometimes sodden, the parade nonetheless brings out thousands of heavily bundled spectators who line the 2½-mile parade route that typically began at 21st and Olympic.
, follows Mohawk Boulevard and 14th to Main Street, finishing at Pioneer Parkway. A Tuba Carol Concert precedes the parade.
Sponsors such as Toyota, Comcast and Sanipac had been prepared to support the effort again this year, but when Woodrow sent out a call for more volunteers in April to replace those who had retired, moved or otherwise no longer could participate, she said she received “little to no” response. Likewise to requests in July.
Woodrow said it wasn’t until the word of the cancellation began to spread Wednesday that the phone began to ring.
“It’s too late,” Woodrow said. “The month of November is when it all comes together, and so far into October, even the logistics of getting permits aren’t completed.”
However, she said that she hopes everyone who wanted to volunteer for this year’s parade will continue to participate so that the parade can make a grand return next year.
“I’m really hoping that this is just a one-year thing,” Woodrow said.