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After 35 years, Coronado may move its parade out of Old Colorado City

In a scene from the 2007 Coronado Homecoming Parade through Old Colorado City, enthusiasm exudes from the cross-country float.
Westside Pioneer file photo
The Coronado High School Homecoming Parade - a fall highlight in Old Colorado City for the past 35 years - may not be back this year.
       According to Principal Darin Smith, there will still be a parade (the scheduled date is Saturday, Sept. 24), but it might loop around the school football field instead.
       Regulations and money are the main issues. From flexible city rules and a roughly $500 cost that encouraged the first parade in 1981, the event has evolved into a bureacratically correct affair priced at nearly $8,000 if held this year in Old Colorado City.
       By contrast, if the parade were at the school, Smith explained, there would be no need for the city-required barricade-placement contract ($4,000), police protection ($2,875) and permits ($700 to rent the park and close Colorado Avenue between 30th and 24th streets).
       “It would be so much easier if we did it here,” he summarized.
Coronado Principal Darin Smith.
Westside Pioneer file photo
But the principal, a 1990 Coronado alumnus with fond parade memories from that era, is not quite ready to give up on the event's Old Colorado City tradition and its goal of touching the Westside community that the public school serves.
       Mainly, Smith wants to find out what the parade means to the Old Colorado City merchants. “We want it [the issue] out there,” he said. “We want to talk about it. We want to know how those people will feel if we say we're not going to do it.”
       He said he expects the school to make a final decision by the latter part of August. (As a side note, no school instructional funds have ever been used for the parade, Smith pointed out, and he intends to continue that policy.)
       It's been hard to gauge merchant interest previously, because until last year the parade started at 9 a.m. and lasted less than an hour (including an event-concluding pep rally in Bancroft Park). As a result, the event was over before most stores even opened. Last year, in an attempt to synch up more with businesses, the starting time moved up an hour. This year the school's stated intent was to stretch the event further, including a pre-parade fun run as a fundraiser.
       As for having the parade at the school, it can only be speculated how such a less prominent location would affect attendance or participatory enthusiasm. One constant over the years has been the involvement of Coronado's clubs and sports teams, as well as all the feeder schools - the result being a display of school spirit from up to 40 entries, including bands, floats and costumes.
       Smith said that student and staff leaders have responded favorably to the school-venue idea. “The word back from student government is that it could be more of a party, and they could bring in vendors,” he said. “That's the vision they have.”
       Here's an example of the bureaucracy: In recent years, because of city demands that a special-event permit application be submitted months in advance, the outgoing Coronado student president must start the planning in the spring for a parade that will be organized by the incoming president in the fall.
       Here's an example of the cost hikes: Initially, volunteers could set out the parade's street barricades. But over the years, the city required increasingly more barricades, their cost went up and a certification was required to place them. For about 30 years, the school was lucky that an alumnus (Rick Johnson) would have his heating and plumbing employees put the barricades out at no charge. But that option no longer exists.
       Issues like these add to the demands on staffers and students who are “working their tails off already,” Smith said. “At some point, there are too many hoops to jump through, and people get tired.”

Westside Pioneer article
(Posted 8/4/16; Schools: Coronado High School)

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