MELBOURNE, Fla. - Days after the Space Coast Light Festival in Palm Bay announced that its event was canceled this year, another Brevard County Christmas event is also at risk of being canceled.
Organizers behind the Melbourne Light Parade, a festive street parade held along Dr. Martin Luther King. Jr. Blvd., said they're thousands of dollars short – $10,000 to be exact, and only have a couple of weeks to raise the funds.
The Melbourne Light Parade organization, a 501(c)3, collects food, new toys, and pet food each year for less fortunate families in Brevard County, which culminates with a yearly parade featuring lighted trucks, vehicles, and floats.
"I think that’s a shame because we’re losing so much of tradition," said Kris Colucci, who was visiting Melbourne for the day and was devastated to hear about the event's possible cancelation.
"I am so devastated, and I’m real sad that this may not happen this year," said Kathy Meehan, former mayor Melbourne, and a longtime supporter of the parade.
Karen Harshaw, who is in charge of the parade, said inflations, the economy, and changing spending habits, have drastically impacted the organization's ability to help those in need in their community, as well as put on the parade.
"People don’t want to spend money. They don’t know what is going to go on with the economy now. I don’t know," she said.
She said she's at a loss this year. The cost to put on the parade is about $20,000. As of Tuesday, the organization is about $10,000 short – and grant money that the organization relied on was taken back several years ago.
"I have $10,000 in the bank," Harshaw said.
She said she used to rely on grant money from the City of Melbourne to help offset permitting costs and other fees. However, in 2017, the city passed a vote, 4-3, to stop providing grant money to local parades. This year, she said, finding local businesses to sponsor the parade has been especially difficult.
"This year has been the worst retail season," she said.
She's now asking for the community to help so needy families to not lose out because the goal of the parade is to collect donations, such as presents, pet foods, and other items.
"We don’t want to see it lost, so please donate," Meehan concluded.
She has a critical deadline to raise $10,000 by Dec. 1, 2023. If the goal isn't met, the parade will have to be canceled, which is scheduled for Dec. 9.