While some parade fans did not learn of the cancellation until they arrived, complaints started popping up on the event’s Facebook page a few days earlier. At least one appeared to come from a marching band member upset that he did not have enough notice to cancel travel plans.
One man posted on Wednesday: “Have called four different numbers and three emails in two days . . . no response. Is parade still happening? Are there tickets for seating still available?”
Another posted on Thursday: “kinda wish the website would say something. my Saturday is ruined if it canceled and be even worse if i go to DC and no parade.” The same man posted again on Friday night: “Website says cancelled now . . . the night before.”
“Ridiculous,” responded another ticketholder.
On Saturday afternoon, the event’s Facebook page still had no official notice of the cancellation and continued to declare the spectacle to be Washington’s “Newest Holiday Tradition!”
On the event’s Web page, there was a note about the cancellation, though by some accounts it was not added until late Friday. It said: “We are very sad to announce that the Capital Holiday Parade has been canceled due to lack of funding to pay for District of Columbia city services.”
The notice said ticketholders would receive refunds and wished readers and their families “a wonderful holiday season.”
In the past, Asymmetrix Entertainment has primarily staged marching band competitions. Founded in 2003, the organization reported a net worth of zero in 2008 and 2009, the most recent years for which its tax returns are listed in the records of GuideStar, a nonprofit transparency organization. In 2007, Asymmetrix reported having a negative net worth of nearly $24,000.
Asymmetrix reported having three unpaid employees in 2009. Chambers reported working 40 hours a week for the group but collecting no pay. The organization listed its headquarters as an address on Crystal Brook Way in Hanover, Md., which tax records indicate is a residence co-owned by Chambers.
Back on Constitution Avenue on Saturday morning, hot dog and ice cream vendor Tuan Do declared business exceptionally slow.
“Believe me,” he said, “there’s no parade.”