PARKERSBURG - The city's annual Christmas Parade will again be held in the light of day.
Less than a week after officials held a press conference at City Hall to announce the parade would be held at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 9, the city issued a brief two-paragraph press release on Wednesday saying the time and date of the event was changed to 1:30 p.m. Dec. 10.
"Due to unforeseen conflicts..." the release said as the reason for the change.
The unforeseen conflict was a major program at St. Paul's United Methodist Church at 11th and Market streets, said Mayor Bob Newell, who pointed out the planning and coordination of the annual Christmas Parade is by Clear Channel Radio, not the city.
The church has already made preparations for its program, including printed materials, he said.
"It was just too much of a conflict," Newell said.
Big Change in Schedule
Parkersburg Christmas Parade had been set for 6:30 p.m. Dec. 9.
The city issued a two-paragraph press release on Wednesday saying the time and date of the parade was changed to 1:30 p.m. Dec. 10.
St. Paul's United Methodist Church at 11th and Market streets had already planned a Dec. 9 Christmas event.
Planning for the event, "A Celtic Christmas Celebration: Tapestry of Light," has been under way for the past six months, said Mary Ellen Dearth, director of music at the church. The program will include all the choirs of the church, including the hand bell choir, she said.
The church since August attempted to ascertain when the parade was going to be held, but Dearth said she could not get a definitive answer. The church made plans for its show after determining the parade generally is held on the second Saturday of December, she said.
"I feel like I did my homework," she said.
Then the news of the nighttime parade hit the newspaper and it would be held the evening of Dec. 9.
"I just feel like I'm in the middle of a big mess," she said.
If past years are an indication, more than 350 people will attend the Christmas program, Dearth said. A reception is held in the fellowship hall afterward, she said.
The release, though from the City of Parkersburg, directed questions to Clear Channel Radio, the event sponsor and coordinator.
John Chalfant, program director for Clear Channel Radio and co-director of the Christmas parade, could not immediately be reached for comment.
Lori Ullman-Wright, instructor for the Wood County Technical Center Broadcast Program and co-director of the Christmas parade, said the move was due to human error.
"When we went through the calendars originally there were a couple of things we missed," Ullman-Wright said. "The whole purpose of the parade is to bring people and community to an event, and we don't want to harm anyone else's event in the process. We found there was more than one conflict with the parade schedule."
On Wednesday "we got a couple of phone calls and we were trying to make things work. The only workable solution at this point was to move the date back to the 10th and at its regular time," she said.
Organizers and city officials elected to send out a press release Wednesday because "we wanted to get the word out that much faster instead of holding a second press conference," she said.
Ullman-Wright said a night parade has not been abandoned; however, planners will be more cautious in working around other groups' schedules.
"Next year will be a nighttime parade," she said.