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No Christmas parade for East L.A.; group can't afford to put on event

November 17, 2010 | 12:31 pm

The annual East Los Angeles Christmas parade has been canceled because of a lack of funds, organizers said Wednesday.

The event was scheduled for Sunday. The Whittier Boulevard Merchants Assn. couldn’t afford to pay for the Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies needed to patrol the event, said Tony DeMarco, the group’s vice president.

The Merchants Assn. has organized the parade since 1974; it has been canceled only once before.

“The bottom line is, we don’t have the funds,” DeMarco said. “That’s kind of the atmosphere in East LA. No one has any money.”

East Los Angeles Station Capt. Henry Romero said that, before recent budget cuts, the Sheriff’s Department was able to adjust its personnel to accommodate the parade, which runs down a two-mile stretch of Whittier Boulevard and typically draws about 50,000 people.

“Right now, I just can’t do it that way,” Romero said. “I don’t have the manpower or the funding to make those kinds of adjustments.”

Romero said that it would have cost the Merchants Assn. about $25,000 to have deputies work the parade on overtime. The group already has an outstanding bill to the Sheriff’s Department for roughly the same amount for a Summerfest event it held in August, Romero said.

DeMarco said the unpaid bill was not directly related to the cancellation of the Christmas parade and that the Merchants Assn. planned to pay that bill. The decision to cancel the parade came in September, he said, and a letter was sent out last week to local businesses.

“It’s a showcase for East L.A.; it’s a showcase for our merchants and our community,” he said. “We don’t like to cancel it. … Our hope is that next year we can come on strong.”

-- Sam Allen