Garden City's annual Belmont parade and street festival quickly became a village tradition ever since the 1999 kickoff event, always taking place on the eve of the famed Belmont Stakes, the third and final leg of thoroughbred racing's Triple Crown.
This year, village officials have opted to forgo the parade along Franklin Avenue but still intend to hold the festival on 7th Street, Friday, June 5, from 6 to 10 p.m.
"The parade has been basically cancelled," Mayor Robert Rothschild said. "We will have to close Seventh [Street] but we will not be closing Franklin Avenue so there is a definite lessening of the cost of expenses the village will have to incur to put on the festival."
Although the New York Racing Association finances some of the event (the Belmont banners along 7th Street, Franklin Avenue and in front of The Garden City Hotel and two along New Hyde Park Road; they also supply the face painters), the annual parade and festival come with a hefty price tag for the village.
By foregoing this year's parade, the village will save approximately $7,000 to $8,000. Cutting down on police activity and street closings make up most of the village's savings. NYRA has agreed to purchase Garden City's insurance certificate for the event.
Further, The Garden City Hotel, a major sponsor of the event, has donated $5,000 to the village to help offset expenses.
According to Althea Robinson, executive director of the Garden City Chamber of Commerce and a member of the Belmont Festival committee, this year's festival will salute America with an Air Force band and other Americana/military appointments and bands. Spectators are encouraged to wear red, white and blue.
Although Mayor Rothschild said the event gives Garden City's commercial district a boost, he thinks putting the parade on hold is the right thing for the village at this time.
"It's a great event for the village," Mayor Rothschild said. "When the weather's wonderful there's nothing like it to get the spring started so I hope we continue with it..."
Trustee Dennis Donnelly, newly appointed liaison officer to the business community, said that although the parade could have a small effect on the businesses along Franklin, he believes most spectators line 7th Street during the event. "Materially, any deterioration [to the business community] would be very minor," he said.
More information will follow regarding this year's festival in future issues of Garden City Life.