Uncertainty Surrounds International Parade

By Lura Jackson

 

One of the major highlights each year for the International Homecoming Festival is the international parade, which begins on one side of the border between the United States and Canada and ends on the other. As such, it was a shock to committee members and town officials on the U.S. side when, on Monday, July 31st, news was spread that there may be no international parade this year. 

“It was sickening,” said City Manager Jim Porter of his initial reaction to the unexpected news. Despite his disappointment, Porter expressed that he understands the logistical issues involved. Porter explained that when the parade starts in Calais it requires its primarily Canadian participants to go through Canadian customs. When it starts in St. Stephen, it requires the participants to go through pre-clearance, a process that requires volunteers to organize. “They’ve been good enough to do it up until now,” Porter said.

The lack of volunteers to assist with the clearance was the primary reason cited for the cancellation by Kim St. Marie, co-chair of the Canadian side of the festival committee, said Jayna Smith. Smith was contacted on Monday with the news that the parade would not be passing through customs. St. Marie was not available for comment, nor could liaison Alex Reid provide any comments. 

“I totally understand them not having time,” said Smith. “Unfortunately, there was such short notice with this. I wish they would have asked for input or assistance from us, as this was the one thing that uses help from both sides.” Smith said that it has been a regular practice in years past to enlist the willing help of Calais Police Department for customs clearance.

As word began to spread of the cancellation, city officials and organizations on both sides of the border started to mobilize ideas of how the situation could be fixed. City Manager Porter affirmed on Tuesday morning that any necessary resources that could be committed to keeping the parade an international affair would be committed.

On Wednesday morning, it was confirmed that the International Parade will once again be an international affair. Festival attendees can expect the parade to pass through both St. Stephen and Calais at noon (EST) on Saturday, August 12th.