Melbourne parade will need help to keep lights on next year

By Greg Pallone, Brevard County Reporter
Last Updated: Monday, November 20, 2017, 4:44 PM EST

A Brevard County holiday tradition -- in danger of being canceled -- will go on, at least for one more year.

  • Melbourne Light Parade is Dec. 9
  • Parade is locally organized, but not city sponsored
  • City can no longer afford to chip in money

The Melbourne Light Parade takes place in just a couple of weeks, but a lack of funding nearly shut it down.

"The community looks forward to having this parade every year," said Karen Harshaw, whose been involved in the Melbourne Light Parade in some way since 1993.

It's an event that sees on average 30,000 patrons every holiday season, who donate food and toys for the needy, plus dog food and supplies for homeless pets.

"This is my last year, they aren't going to help me anymore," Harshaw said.

Despite the name, this isn't a city sponsored event.

Melbourne charges Harshaw more than $13,000 for the parade permit and costs.

The city offset it in the past, paying for a portion. Now, that won't happen anymore.

"We are cut off, that's the last of it," Harshaw said.

If the homestead exemption amendment coming in 2018 passes in Florida, Melbourne City Council stands to lose $1.5 million from its general fund.

Councilman Tim Thomas said they have to make budget decisions based on need, not want.

So with that, events like the Light Parade are losing funding.

Making matters worse this year, parade leaders were facing a $3,500 shortfall to put on the $17,000 event.

But a miracle came early this season. A local Merrill Lynch office donated enough so the floats, participants and band, can go on.

"It's through the generosity of companies like this that will ensure all future parades in Melbourne will continue to happen and be funded," said Thomas.

But what about 2018, the 25th year of the parade?

"I need funding, enough to cover $17,000 for next year," said Harshaw.

Parade supporters are looking for corporate sponsors to keep it going.

To learn how you can help the Melbourne Light Parade, head to the parade website.