NEW PORT RICHEY — Santa Claus' route through downtown New Port Richey won't be detoured this year.
Last week, the fate of the West Pasco Chamber of Commerce's Holiday Street Parade appeared in doubt after it lost its previous presenting sponsor, Bright House Networks. Charter Communications acquired Bright House and Time Warner Cable last year, rebranded them as Spectrum, but did not renew its parade sponsorship for 2017. The company instead focused its charitable work on a housing assistance program.
It left parade organizers facing an approximately $10,000 shortfall.
"I'm kind of resigning myself to the fact it's not going to happen,'' Greg Armstrong, the longtime parade chairman, said last week.
The chamber's board of directors, however, declined to pull the plug at its meeting Tuesday morning.
"The important thing is the board did not want to do anything to cancel the parade. We realized we might be in jeopardy, but it will go on as scheduled,'' said Chip Wichmanowski, chamber president.
He said a community group and a restaurant owner both have indicated they would try to fill the sponsorship void.
A year ago, the tab was almost $8,800 for police, public works crews and other municipal-related expenses, and the city contributed $2,500 worth of in-kind services, said City Manager Debbie Manns.
Both she and Mayor Rob Marlowe said they weren't aware that the parade could have been in jeopardy.
"I'd be real disappointed if they can't pull that off,'' said Marlowe. "I think the Christmas parade is one of the real neat events we have each year.''
The parade has grown to approximately 100 units and attracts 80,000 people, said Armstrong, and draws a different crowd than the Chasco Fiesta parade each March.
"This is simply a community parade that lets everybody take the kids out for a night and have fun,'' said Armstrong.
The parade is scheduled for Dec. 9, and the chamber is accepting applications for entrants through its website.