International Parade Saved by Joint Efforts

Adding the various components of Barbara Lara's School of Dance float is Felice Storey. The same float will be returning for this year's restored International Festival Parade. (Photo courtesy of Barbara Lara)

By Lura Jackson

 

The “international” element of the International Homecoming Festival parade has been restored after a brief period where it appeared the parade would be cancelled. A lack of volunteers to sort through customs clearance was the cause of the initial cancellation, but efforts on both sides of the border have successfully resolved the issue.

“I am very happy the parade is back on,” said City Manager Jim Porter. Porter said that while he and Mayor Billy Howard had a part in vocalizing their concerns, the real credit for the restoration should go to St. Stephen Mayor Allan MacEachern. “He was able to persuade everyone to make this work,” said Porter.  

“When I first heard it was canceled, I could not believe it,” said Mayor MacEachern. He proceeded to call the St. Stephen festival committee to express the importance of the parade to both communities. The committee relayed the issue of a lack of volunteers to assist with customs clearance. MacEachern contacted Herm Gadway, Assistant Port Director, Passenger Operations, of U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Describing Gadway as “a great help and very supportive of continuing with our tradition”, MacEachern found that though Gadway could provide manpower and support from his end, he needed paperwork for the parade participants. “Thankfully, after they announced the cancelation of the parade, we had Kristina White, who has done the clearance paperwork before, step back up to help,” said MacEachern. While this year’s parade has been restored, MacEachern readily asserts that the issue will have to be revisited in advance of next year’s festival.

“The people want the parade and they have spoken,” said MacEachern. “We are all one community, two halves of a whole and are joined by family, friends and businesses. We have a lot to offer together and we are stronger together.”