Why is Allentown’s Halloween parade going to cost tens of thousands of dollars?

Written by on October 8, 2021

Why is Allentown’s Halloween parade going to cost tens of thousands of dollars?

By Tyler Pratt

October 8, 2021

A photo from the 2018 Allentown Halloween Parade. Photo | Courtesy of the Allentown Halloween Parade Facebook page.
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Allentown’s Halloween parade is this Saturday, and it’s a lot larger than the last time it was held, before the pandemic. The cost for the event has skyrocketed and that caused a heated debate in city council this week.

In 2019, the Halloween parade cost roughly $8,000. 

City Controller Jeffrey Glazier noted the price increase for this year’s event at Wednesday’s city council meeting. 

“Now, we’re looking at a total of $39,000 for the Halloween parade,” Glazier said. “That’s a lot of money for a parade.”

Glazier also raised concerns that the money was pulled from a $100,000 city fund dedicated to serving the homeless. 

But after a heated debate between city officials, with Mayor Ray O’Connell saying his administration was being accused of fraud, council members determined the funds weren’t being abused.  

Leonard Lightner, director of Community and Economic Development, said the money in the homeless fund hadn’t yet been appropriated and is scheduled to be reabsorbed back into the city’s general fund at the end of the year. And the parade wouldn’t impact the services the homeless receive.

However, while also questioning the cost of the event, council members asked Lightner to find the funds for the Halloween parade elsewhere in the city budget.

“I’m still stuck on almost $40,000 for the parade,” Councilmember Candida Affa said.

In an email to WLVR News, Lightner broke down the parade’s expenses saying marketing cost the city $2,600, stipends were $9,015, supplies came in at $5,653 and rentals totaled $3,319. 

These numbers bring the parade’s price tag to $20,587.

Lightner didn’t elaborate on the discrepancy in the numbers.

But at Wednesday’s city council meeting, he defended the parade’s funding. He said costs have gone up and the city is short on volunteers. And he said the parade was aimed at brightening moods in the midst of a pandemic, with more bands and more balloons. 

“What we’re doing is we’re providing a service to the community, to the kids so that they can have a true parade,” Lightner said. “Why should our parade look any less than Macy’s or look less than Philadelphia?” 

Councilman Josh Siegel amplified Lightner’s sentiment.

“I’ve walked in our Halloween parade a number of times, and it’s kind of rudimentary, kind of rinky-dink sometimes,” Siegel said. “I think we could do a heck of a lot better and really make it in the region a one-of-a-kind event. Something that people travel to see.”

WLVR’s Genesis Ortega contributed to this report.

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