Another summer for Jersey City residents means another opportunity to partake of the various parades and festivals on the cultural calendar. But city budget cuts have diminished the funding for each event by 80 percent in 2010.
This year, the Mayor’s Office cut its funding for each of the seven parades scheduled for 2010 from $5,000 to $1,000. And 14 festivals once receiving $2,500 grants from the city’s Division of Cultural Affairs were cut down to $500 each.
The parades scheduled for 2010 are the St. Patrick’s Day Parade (which took place in March), the Philippine-American Friendship Day Parade in June, the West Indian Parade this coming Saturday, July 24, the Bolivian Parade on Aug. 7, the India Independence Day Celebration & Parade on Aug. 14, the Puerto Rican Parade on Aug. 25, and the Columbus Day Parade (returning after a several-year hiatus) in October.
“The parade and carnival are part of Caribbean culture and people need to see that.” – Cheryl Murphy
How much of an impact does a funding cut have on a parade and/or festival?
Ask Armando Roman, director of the Jersey City Fire Department. Roman also is the president of the Jersey City Puerto Rican Heritage Festival and Parade, which is responsible for organizing the largest and the oldest Puerto Rican parade in the state of New Jersey (and its accompanying festival) in Jersey City on the last weekend of August. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the event.
Roman said last week that the loss of $6,000 from last year’s funding amount for the Puerto Rican parade and festival combined was a “tough loss,” especially for such an extensive endeavor as the Puerto Rican parade and festival. Like many committees, Roman’s committee raises funds year-round. They also hold a week’s worth of events leading up to parade/festival weekend including three pageants and an honorees dinner.
“When you lose any kind of money, it is difficult to raise it especially in these tough financial times,” Roman said. “But everyone on the committee knows the city is in a tough bind, and we just have to go with the flow.”
Roman said the cost of putting on the parade and festival last year was an estimated $60,000.
Also feeling the pinch is Cheryl Murphy, the founder and organizer of the Jersey City West Indian Caribbean American Carnival Association, Inc. While for the second straight year, the group will fail to hold an actual festival, Murphy ensures that a parade will take place.
“The parade and carnival are part of Caribbean culture, and people need to see that,” Murphy said.
Murphy said as much as $80,000 has been spent on the parade in past years. She also said the $4,000 decrease in city funding for the West Indian parade poses a challenge. She is seeking corporate donors to make up the difference.
She said the extra money would help parade participants set up their floats, and worries that some may drop out before the parade.
For more information about the West Indian parade, call Cheryl Murphy at (201) 757-9043. For information about the Puerto Rican parade and festival, Susan Pabon at (201) 988-1546 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Ricardo Kaulessar can be reached at email@example.com.