Budget cuts from last spring in the School Department, as well as the City’s inability to pay for an expensive parade, resulted in what was a more modest – but well-attended – Friday homecoming celebration this year.
It was the first year in 28 years there wasn’t a Parade to mark homecoming, which was last Friday and Saturday.
City records indicate that the Parade has cost anywhere from $92,000 to $119,000 per year – an expense that couldn’t be rationalized given the proposed teacher layoffs and budget crisis that hit the School Department last spring. So, this budget year, the School Department and School Committee appropriated nothing for the Parade. In previous years, they have budgeted $100,000.
Supt. Frederick Foresteire said the decision to not have a Parade came last spring, and minus any expenditure from the City, they weren’t prepared to go forward.
“Obviously we couldn’t have a Parade and the mayor and City Council knew it,” he said. “There was going to be no Parade unless the City made an appropriation from the Celebrations Account. There’s still money there left from the 125th Anniversary money. That was the fact of the matter. They knew we weren’t doing it. We weren’t going to take it out of teachers’ salaries. We’re not going to budget $100,000 for Homecoming and lay off 105 teachers. The City Council and the mayor knew this scenario and obviously did nothing with it. Unless the made an appropriation, it wasn’t going to happen. It was no surprise. Everyone knew it.”
That came as the City had quickly put together a homecoming celebration at Glendale Park that came at a much more moderate cost of about $6,000, according to City records, rather than the estimated $130,000 it would have taken to have a Parade.
City officials on Tuesday said there was $167,500 budgeted in the Celebrations Account on July 1. Already, they have spent half of that, and will have $89,000 remaining to accommodate the regular celebrations for Halloween, Christmas, Easter and other such celebrations. The City indicated that there was no significant money left over from last year’s 125th Anniversary celebration. They said that $335,000 was budgeted, and most all of that was expended.
This year, while there was not a Parade for the first time in 28 years, the City used its funds to hold a fireworks display on Friday night, the day before the big football game. Also, the Everett High marching band played several tunes and there were games and music from Everett’s Local Scruff band. All in all, the City estimated that around 1,000 people attended.
“For the second year in a row, I was really excited to provide fireworks for our Homecoming Celebration,” said Mayor Carlo DeMaria in an op-ed this week. “They were spectacular and I am glad we were able to continue this tradition in our community. I am happy that people from all over came and visited Everett and shared in the excitement and celebration of all that Everett is and is becoming. Community celebrations, such as this one, are one of the reasons why Everett was named one of the top ten places to live in Massachusetts. Everett is a place where we live, work, and celebrate together.”
Behind the scenes, despite the good time had by all at the celebration, there has been much wrangling over the lack of funding for a Parade.
While Supt. Foresteire contended that the money was there for the City to carry on the tradition, City officials have privately indicated that they believe the expenditure was excessive and had not been budgeted.
Some of the Parade expenses include $25,000 for large inflatable balloons, more than $30,000 on local marching band fees, and $7,000 for the Shriners contingent.
The cost of the Parade last year was $119,159, about $20,000 over budget. In year’s past, the costs were as follows:
- 2016: $114,271
- 2015: $92,300
- 2014: $101,733
- 2013: $96,203
Meanwhile, Supt. Foresteire said he has every intention of bringing back the Homecoming Parade next year.
“I intend to bring it back next year,” he said. “We did it for 28 years and didn’t have it this year. We expect and hope it would be back in full swing next year.”