Grand County High School Homecoming King Alec Williams (center) and other students rode a parade float down Main Street during the school’s 2017 homecoming parade. [Photo by Murice D. Miller / Moab Sun News]

Grand County High School’s homecoming parade will continue its tradition on Main Street this year, but Moab’s city council is looking at ways to reduce the costs of issuing fee waivers for future parades.

More than 200 participants will gather on Main Street for the annual Grand County High School homecoming parade on Sept. 14. This year’s parade marks the 100th anniversary of the high school, according to the parades organizers who filed a request with the city to have the event’s fees waived.

Moab City Council members discussed the fee waiver at its regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 28, and ultimately approved of the waiver, with four council members voting in favor and one voting “nay.”

The parade, with an estimated six floats, will begin to setup at 2 p.m. on 400 North across from Swanny City Park. At 3 p.m. the parade will proceed on 100 West, take a left on Center Street and then turn right onto Main Street. The parade will continue south on Main Street to Uranium Avenue, at which point it will turn left and conclude at 3:30 p.m. at Grand County Middle School.

The estimated $10,350 cost for the parade includes a $400 event fee, a $3,900 fee for police department personnel, a $1,950 fee for public works and another $200 for items like barricades and cones.

“Historically fees have been waived for the parade although it takes all hands on deck to assure the safety of all with approximately 30 city personnel to setup, monitor and breakdown the parade route,” the council’s agenda read.

Before the fee waiver was voted upon, a discussion ensued between the council members, mayor and city manager. Concerns were raised, with some suggestions that the parade be moved away from Main Street for safety and to possibly reduce the event’s costs. City council member Karen Guzman-Newton reiterated to the council several times that the parade should be funded and allowed to continue its tradition on Main Street.

“Town is changing, our Main Street is changing,” said Moab Mayor Emily Niehaus.

“To that point exactly,” said Guzman-Newton immediately in response, “this is not a battle that I think our council wants to go down, because if anybody was around and could see — our town is changing, and our residents who have lived here and who have tradition and who expect to have a parade down Main Street, it’s absolutely not just the students right now, it’s the alumni. And it is so much bigger than the comments that I have heard from this council and it’s not a financial reason that they should go down 400, this is a lot bigger than us.”

Guzman-Newton, who said the homecoming parade is a “big deal,” asked if the costs could be reduced by having the police officers already scheduled for patrol duty be present for the event.

“I would say, I wouldn’t want to be the one to say that,” said David Everitt, city manager. “That’s really up to (Moab City Police Chief Jim) Winder and his team on how to manage their staff in that respect. The one thing I will say is, moving forward, we have a process in place to sponsor events and you all, the council, can decide to be a regular sponsor of the parade.”

Niehaus asked each the council members for their comments on the parade and its fee waiver before they voted.

“If the school came to us and said, ‘Oh, we’re looking to move the event,’ that’s fine,” Guzman-Newton said, “but as a council — and I apologize, for there’s very few of us have kids on this council and … are a part of this school district’s history — my standing is that we continue to support it.”

But council member Tawny Knuteson-Boyd, casting the only “nay” vote, said she did not support the waiver for the homecoming parade.

“I don’t understand the tradition, it doesn’t mean much to me,” Knuteson-Boyd said. “We did never have a parade, so I don’t understand the attachment to it personally. Other than that, I’m fine with it. I’m not going to vote for it, but I’m not going to fight it. I think that’s an awful lot of money to ask taxpayers to pay for a parade.”

Council member Mike Duncan asked how the parade’s fees would be paid for with the waiver. Everitt responded by saying that it would come out of the general funds for the departments.

“I think it’s good we’re going through the whole exercise of finding out what things really cost,” said council member Rani Derasary, “but there are obviously, definitely, people who are getting stuck in the mix of what we will call the crest, or the dip, between things changing, and I personally feel we as a city council don’t directly invest that much in youth services or things for youth, and it’s really important to me that our youth feel a sense of ownership in this town, and they feel like they have the right to go down Main Street for a day.”

$10,350 fee waived for 100th anniversary homecoming parade

“We can definitely use the time out to discuss the new sponsorship program, whether in the future they should apply for an official sponsorship, but if it’s anyone who should be walking down a parade on Main Street, it’s our kids.”