'Difficult decision': City of Raleigh won't grant Christmas parade permit

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Thursday, September 14, 2023
City of Raleigh will not grant Christmas parade permit
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The family of Hailey Brooks, the girl killed in the 2022 parade accident, said they were not consulted and were "disappointed" with the City's decision.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- There will be no Christmas parade in Raleigh this year.

The City of Raleigh announced Thursday afternoon that it will not grant a special event permit application for the 2023 Christmas Parade. The mayor called it a "difficult decision" and said there were "concerns" about the presentation of the permit applicant.

The City said the decision was made "out of an abundance of caution for parade participants and spectators, as well as respect for Hailey Brooks' family and friends. The Brooks family said city officials did not consult them and opposed the decision to effectively cancel the parade.

Hailey, 11, was performing in the parade when she was struck and killed when the driver of a truck pulling a float lost control at the 2022 Raleigh Christmas Parade on Nov. 19.

Hailey Brooks

Her parents filed a wrongful-death lawsuit in April.

In a statement through their attorney, Jason A. Miller, the Brooks family disagreed with the City's decision.

"The Brooks family is disappointed that the City of Raleigh chose to cancel its 2023 Raleigh Christmas Parade rather than adopt basic safety measures to protect the community," the family statement said. "The City did not reach out to the family before making this decision. If consulted, the Brooks family would have urged the City to proceed with the Parade after implementing basic, common-sense safety protocols that should have been in place in 2022, such as those proposed in the Shine Like Hailey Parade Safety Act. It has been 10 months since Hailey Brooks was killed, and it is time for the City to honor her by enacting protections for the safety of this community - not by canceling the parade."

The Greater Raleigh Merchants Association, which applied for the permit, was notified, the City said.

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"We understand the disappointment, as this was not an easy decision for anyone. The Christmas Parade is a Raleigh tradition for kicking off the holiday season and an important way to recognize our small businesses," the City of Raleigh said in a statement.

Ralegh Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin cited several reasons as to why the city made the decision it did.

"This was a difficult decision for many reasons," Baldwin said. "It was done out of respect for Hailey Brooks, who was tragically killed last year, and her family. And with pending lawsuits and state legislation regarding parades, we felt this decision was best for the community.

"The City does not run the parade; we authorize the permit and there were concerns about what was presented by the Raleigh Merchants Association, the applicant. Our goal is to work with them and other partners on events that celebrate the upcoming holidays," Baldwin added.

The Greater Raleigh Merchants Association responded by saying it was "deeply saddened" by the decision and noted other parades were allowed to continue.

"The parade has been a Raleigh tradition for 78 years that brings the community together and provides joy to hundreds of thousands and allows families near and far to make countless memories," said Jennifer Martin, Executive Director of the Greater Raleigh Merchants Association - Shop Local Raleigh. "There are thousands of local youth that participate in this annual event and when considering if we should hold a parade in 2023, we knew that we had to continue the event as our youth deserve every opportunity that we can provide for them. We also understand that for many children, the Raleigh Christmas Parade is the only way they will see Santa.

"Our association has spent countless hours working to plan a parade that would be like one never seen before, one that would bring the community back together, provide a space for unity, one of healing and one where the community will be provided a safe environment. The Association stands ready, willing and able to continue this tradition as soon as the City of Raleigh allows it to return."

Raleigh's assistant city manager said the city did not arrive at this decision lightly.

"We had a conversation with a collection of internal stakeholders," said Evan Raleigh. "Probably chief among those are city attorney's office, but we've consulted with all of the departments that have a role in permitting special days parades, and others. so It was very much a decision made across the organization with input from a lot of places."

City of Raleigh departments are working with partners on alternative events and activities "that everyone can enjoy."

The City said it is also exploring ways for small businesses to participate.

The mayor suggested that the parade could return next year.

"We will be working to ensure we can resume this special tradition in 2024," Baldwin said.

In a March interview where the Brooks family spoke publicly for the first time, Hailey's father, Trey Brooks, said it was his daughter's first time performing in the parade that the family had attended every year since her first birthday.

The driver of the truck, Landon Glass, is facing several charges, including involuntary manslaughter and vehicle violations.