For 22 years, Fargo-Moorhead has celebrated St. Patrick’s Day with a daylong party highlighted by a downtown parade.
Parade No. 23, however, may be in jeopardy.
Ever since a volunteer committee announced over social media last month that it wouldn’t host the 2019 parade because of a lack of funding and volunteers, community leaders have scrambled to find ways to keep the festivities going.
“We’re going to try and make the whole event happen,” Fargo Mayor Tim Mahoney said last week.
Mahoney said that he, like many in the Red River Valley communities, was stunned by the announcement. Nevertheless, he said he believes the money can be raised to host the parade next month.
In recent years, the event cost around $5,000. But inflation, a growth in popularity and concerns about security have added to the cost. The committee estimated it would need about $20,000 this year, said Don Martin, parade committee chairman.
Fearing it could not get that much, the committee did not try to raise funds, Martin said.
The celebration is a popular draw. It begins with a children’s run, a 5K and 10K, followed by the parade that features scores of floats. The day ends with a pub crawl.
Mahoney said one possible financial partner could be the Downtown Community Partnership, a nonprofit organization that works to attract events to downtown Fargo.
Partnership President and CEO Melissa Rademacher said that $10,000 could be enough to host the parade. She said when she learned it could be in jeopardy, she contacted the volunteer group to offer support. “I know there are families and people who have traditions built around this parade,” she said.
Mike Kelly, a downtown business owner, said losing the parade would hurt local merchants.
“It brings tens of thousands of families and people to downtown,” he said.
Restaurants and pubs have thrived as a result.
“Last year when I was down there, most of the pubs downtown were open and full,” Mahoney said.
Rademacher said community leaders have met on the issue several times in the past week and hope to make a final decision on the parade in coming days.
David Mullen is a University of Minnesota student reporter on assignment for the Star Tribune.