Melbourne Light Parade will return after 1-year hiatus, but funding outlook remains murky

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Last December, the COVID-19 pandemic and lack of funding forced the cancellation of the Melbourne Light Festival, which has historically attracted an estimated 25,000 to 30,000 spectators.

The small, volunteer-run non-profit organization that organizes the popular Yuletide Night Parade is still struggling with fundraising. As of Monday, only 15 gigs have been registered to participate, Karen Harshaw, head of the show, said.

But organizers are trying to recruit more participants, and the 29th annual Melbourne Light Festival returns at 6pm. December 11. The holiday parade will begin at the old Land Yacht Port-O-Call property on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Near Hilton Melbourne Rialto Place.

The show will head south before turning west on Hibiscus Boulevard. The two-mile road ends at the intersection of Hibiscus Boulevard and Gateway Drive, near The Oaks Shopping Center.

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“I just hope everyone realizes it’s a non-profit parade — not a city parade,” Harshaw said. “I just hope people understand that.”

According to the draft Special Events Permit Agreement, Melbourne City Hall may charge parade organizers $13,622 for various services. Costs include $4,694 for police patrols, $3,591 for parks and recreation, $2,932 for traffic engineering and $2,310 for email message boards.

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