Baltimore City has urged organizers of the Hampden Christmas parade to postpone the date. The sides are trying to get into step. – Baltimore Sun

Organizers of an annual Baltimore Christmas parade in Hampden hope the event can go ahead as planned after discussions with the city.

Discussions began after the Baltimore City Department of Transportation gave organizers a last-minute notice early Monday morning to postpone the Dec. 4 parade because there weren’t enough police officers to cover it next to a Ravens game.

“I understand you need the police, but there’s nothing we can do about it,” Tom Kerr, a parade organizer, said Monday, noting that the event has historically coincided with Ravens games without issue.

On Wednesday afternoon, Sharen Kerr, Tom’s wife, who is also a parade organizer, said of the talks: “It’s a work in progress but I feel in my heart that we’re going to see it through.”

The city called organizers Tuesday and Wednesday, assuring they were working diligently to find enough security for the parade and saying they should have an answer by Friday, Sharen Kerr said.

That’s “still close,” but “we’re hopeful,” she said.

Sharen Kerr and Councilwoman Odette Ramos, whose District 14 includes Hampden, reported no developments on a decision on Friday morning but said they would share updates.

Choosing a new date for the parade in less than two weeks would be impossible, and canceling it would be costly, Tom Kerr said.

Tom Kerr, 79, has been organizing the event since its inception – with the exception of 2020 when the coronavirus pandemic hit and everything was cancelled.

The Christmas parade, which organizers say is the largest in Maryland, has been held through the streets of Hampden on the first Sunday of December for 49 years.

The timing of the announcement is frustrating because everything is already in place and the city has known about the parade since July, when organizers applied for a permit, Sharon Kerr said.

“The city is in constant communication with the parade organizers to determine how to ensure the parade can be held in a manner that is safe and enjoyable for all,” city spokeswoman Monica Lewis said on Tuesday Tuesday evening. “We are happy [to] To continue the dialogue and share more details with the public in the coming days.”

Gov. Larry Hogan’s spokesman, Michael Ricci, tweeted Wednesday that “the state stands ready to help.”

“We’re scrambling,” Sharen Kerr said, “but I feel like the city is doing their best now.”

Past parades have drawn tens of thousands of spectators, including residents from other parts of Baltimore City and surrounding counties, Tom Kerr said.

He has been the chairman of the parade since Mayor William Donald Schaefer asked him to organize the Mayor’s Christmas Parade in 1973.

Funded by Hampden and Medfield corporations, the parade features not only marching bands from the local high school, but also professional bands from Virginia and Pennsylvania, large floats, balloons and groups like Philadelphia’s Mummers.

The parade is scheduled to begin at 1pm at Falls Road and West Cold Spring Lane. The parade route continues south on Falls Road to West 36th Street before turning east to Chestnut Avenue and then north to terminate at West 37th Street. Santa is scheduled to appear along with the winner, Ms. Yuletide, and the three Jr. Ms. Yuletide award winners.

The Ravens-Denver Broncos game that day at M&T Bank Stadium is also scheduled to start at 1 p.m

“All the bands have contracted buses to bring them to that date. All the floats and the big balloons have gathered for this date and next weekend they will be somewhere else. We’ll send them a deposit in April,” said Tom Kerr.

Running the event will cost $47,000 to $50,000, a budget that includes a few thousand dollars to pay the city for a police force of about 20 officers, Tom Kerr said.

“Here we get some good stuff in Baltimore, for Christ’s sake, and they beat us with it,” said Tom Kerr. “We were trying to do something nice and they kick us in the back.”

Tom Kerr had asked Ramos for help to work out a solution with the city.

“We have to talk about that. This is Hampden’s gift to Baltimore,” she said. Ramos said her favorite part of the annual parade, which she hopes to attend this year, is the city’s marching bands.

“It’s such a great event and they’ve been doing it for so long,” Ramos said. “That and the lights, it’s not Christmas in Baltimore without both.”

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