For the second year in a row, rain dampened the turnout at Worcester’s Columbus Day parade this past Sunday.
Unfortunately for parade organizers, parade goers, and Shrewsbury Street bar and restaurant owners, even with beautiful weather the crowd wouldn’t have been exceedingly better.
Even parade organizer Judy Verdini told ThisWeekinWorcester.com last week that she expected only 2,000 people on the two mile parade route — “weather permitting.”
Compared to the Worcester County St. Patrick’s Day parade, which brings thousands of people to Park Ave even in the bitter cold, the Columbus Day parade seems more of a tradition for a small, select group than something for everyone.
For an entire month leading up to the St. Patrick’s Day parade, people are asking each other ‘What’re you doing for the parade?’
In our opinion, if the same effort went into promoting the Columbus Day parade — especially on a street that prides itself on its nightlife and restaurant scene — more people would be asking ‘What’re you doing for the Columbus Day parade?’ instead of asking, ‘Wait, there’s a parade today?’
Beyond the much-needed relentless promotion of the parade on social media, several other seemingly easy changes that could bring a better crowd to Shrewsbury St would include involving the street’s bars and restaurants into the parade planning process, have bars and restaurants build their own floats, get beer and liquor sponsors involved, have a bar crawl, do whatever it takes to make sure the Oktoberfest 5K happens EVERY year, and spend more money on transportation options to get people up and down the street — trolleys, pedal bikes, etc.
Although many of the options we present to improve parade turnout are clearly influenced by imbibing in beer and alcohol — well, we do so deliberately.
Like the St. Patrick’s Day parade, the Columbus Day parade needs to be an event. And unlike the St. Pat’s parade, the Columbus Day parade is followed by a national holiday.
In other words, everyone [besides news outlets] has the next day off. We say, let them party safely and let Restaurant Row reap the benefits.