ALPENA - Over the course of the last six years the Alpena Area Chamber of Commerce has been taking notes from the public on ways it can make the annual Lafarge and Alpena Area Chamber of Commerce Fourth of July Parade better. After careful consideration the chamber is taking steps that will shorten the parade from two hours to about an hour, as well as make sure the entries are a higher quality for the viewers.
In order to do so the chamber board has decided to place an entry fee for parade entries. Someone wishing to have a float or take part in the parade will need to pay $30, chamber members will receive a $10 discount. Executive Director Jackie Krawczk said the move is not to make a bunch of money, even though the cost of putting on the parade has risen, but to give the resident of Northeast Michigan the most enjoyable parade possible.
"Our goal is to increase the viewing experience for the viewers at the parade," Krawczak said. "We have had six-years of comments and we have kept track of what they were. They want it shortened and they want to see higher quality entries.We'll try it this year and then take a look at it afterward to see if any other changes need to be made."
Any time a fee is attached to anything these days there has to be a question how it will be received by the public and if it will cause a negative impact. Krawczak said she doesn't believe that will be the case in this instance.
"I don't think it will hurt. I think the people who participate and do it right will not mind," Krawczak said. "I think when people make an investment in something they also put more effort into it, so this should prompt them to higher quality entries. We have made changes to the parade in the past. We have removed inappropriate language and music and those went over well. We are always looking at ways to make it better."
There are price breaks that can be received for certain types of organizations or others that qualify. Krawczak said chamber members also will receive a reduced fee. She said there is a select number of entries that will be allowed and once the positions are filled no more will be allowed. She said entries received after the 5 p.m. June 28 deadline will be refused.
"Nonprofits and other select entities will not have to pay and of course our members will get a discount," Krawczak said. "We have a cutoff point of the first 85 and we will absolutely not accept late entries."
As always there are prizes for the top entries. Those who are first place winners will receive $225 and second place will get $150. All participants are expected to follow the rules and regulations established, or fines could be issued.
For those wishing for more information and guidelines can call the chamber at 354-4181.