“Maybe we missed it?” asked Megan Nartowicz. She and her husband, Terry, had double-checked the time and place online Friday evening before traveling 12 miles from their home at Andrews Air Force Base. After quizzing passing pedestrians for half an hour, they stood confused at the corner of 12th Street and Constitution Avenue. A reporter broke the news — the parade’s promoter had canceled the spectacle, without posting notice on the event’s Facebook page and only a belated one on its Web site.
“It’s definitely a bummer,” Terry Nartowicz said. “It’s our first year in the area, so we were hoping to see something new, something awesome.”
The change also blindsided Maurice Richardson of Washington, who bused to the Mall with an armload of gloves, hats and scarves he had hoped to peddle for as much as $300 to chilly parade watchers.
“I am crushed,” Richardson said.
City officials said they also were disappointed — but not surprised, since the event’s promoter canceled a similar pageant last winter.
Rodney Chambers, president of event promoter Asymmetrix Entertainment, said he canceled the parade on Tuesday and spread the news via e-mail after realizing he didn’t have $36,000 to cover police coverage, fire protection and cleanup. About 350 tickets had been sold, and most of the money has been refunded, he said.
“We are very saddened by this. We just couldn’t pull it off,” Chambers said Saturday. “We reached out to every company in the area for support for this parade, and we couldn’t get any.”
Deputy Mayor Paul A. Quander said city officials were finalizing preparations when Chambers asked them to contribute funding or waive fees, which is prohibited because Asymmetrix is based in Maryland.
“We always had a sense that he wasn’t going to be able to produce,” Quander said.
In a Nov. 15 news release, promoters said they were dedicating the parade to “our Nation’s educators” and planned a salute to “our returning military heroes and their families.”
“We are so excited to be launching the first holiday parade for a great city like Washington,” Ronald Covington of Asymmetrix said in the release. “The audiences will be very impressed once they see some of our great performing acts.”
LivingSocial, the online outfit where some tickets were sold, described it this way:
“Kick-off your holiday season with a bleacher seat to Washington’s newest tradition. . . . The festive event will feature magnificent marching bands from around the country, colorfully designed floats, large balloons, clowns, cheerleaders, dancers, celebrities, and more. Don’t miss your chance to be one of the first to experience this soon-to-be classic holiday tradition.”