The weather’s warming, sleeves are shortening, the Nats are playing — pretty soon, it’s going to be parade season in the District of Columbia. But there are going to be some changes this year.
For one, there will be no Caribbean Carnival and Parade. Organizers announced in a release (also reported over at WAMU-FM and DCist) that they have scrapped plans for a D.C. festival and will instead join a Baltimore festival for a “Baltimore/Washington One Caribbean Carnival” over the weekend of July 13.
That means no jerk chicken, steel bands and more at the foot of Georgia Avenue NW near the Howard University campus. And it means at the very least a hiatus for what was once the longest parade in the District, a three-mile slog down Georgia toward Howard.
The organizers had trouble over several years paying their bills to the city for security and clean-up, and officials aren’t too keen on offering the festival further help with other bills still unpaid. D.C. Council member Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) told my colleague Tim Craig that Mayor Vincent C. Gray’s administration wasn’t willing to offer any assistance unless old bills were paid.
Graham called the parade’s loss “tragic” but said he hopes it would return to Georgia Avenue next year.
The other big summer parades will go off as planned, including Capital Pride and the Palisades Fourth of July parades. But there might be fewer politicians in attendance, given the changes to the city election schedule.
For the first time since local elections started 38 years ago, the city primaries will have taken place prior to parade season, meaning there will be fewer primary challengers marching for votes.
That’s a step in the right direction for one Ward 3 resident, Richard Palmer, who would like local politicos to eschew the Palisades parade entirely, given their dismal year.
In a recent open letter to elected officials, copied to a number of media outlets, Palmer “disinvited” them on behalf of himself and “like-minded citizens.”
The politicians, he wrote, have been tainted by “the smell of self-dealing, ‘clean graft,’ and corruption.”
“I am hoping that you will all stay away,” Palmer wrote. “If you don’t, I hope my fellow patriots will invoke another great tradition — well-aimed insults, rotten tomatoes and raw eggs.”
Palmer approached the Palisades Citizens Association, the organizers of the parade, earlier this year about making the disinvitation official, but his suggestion was rebuffed.
Bill Slover, the association’s president, said the parade’s always done fine with an open-door policy.
“The Palisades parade is open to any and all who come and celebrate the day we’re celebrating,” he said. “We don’t invite anybody, no one registers, and we encourage any and all to participate. To restrict any one person or group would really run counter to the day we’re celebrating.”