Cumming Christmas Parade bad for businesses?

Business owner wants parade moved

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CUMMING, Ga. — Lance White said he wants the city of Cumming to move its annual Christmas parade route away from Market Place Boulevard because it cut on his sales by half.

White, the owner of Lance’s Jewelry, 1705 Market Place Boulevard, said the parade is hurting his and neighboring business because of road closures and people flocking to the road, instead of stores.

“We’re down about $10,000-to-$15,000 compared to the previous Saturday and the Saturday after,” White said. “We should be somewhere in that mid-range.”

White said the day after the parade, business owners he surveyed told him they also took a financial hit.

“None of the tenants in that whole area are anti-Christmas,” White said. “We depend on Christmas, but we feel there is a better place for the parade.”

But the Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce says this is simply not the case.

"We find that of the merchants that create avenues for parade patrons to engage in their business, they actually see a bump in business," said James McCoy, president of the chamber. "Certainly some have concerns about traffic and congestion – but again – of the merchants that really use the opportunity to build relationships and truly open their doors, they get rewarded."

The parade was held Dec. 1, 2012 and tends to take place the first week of December. Last year, thousands of people watched as floats paraded from Market Place Boulevard near Outback Steakhouse toward Ga. 20 (Buford Highway) near the Walmart. The parade participants then continue the celebration at the Northside Hospital Forsyth campus for a tree lighting ceremony.

“We were hoping that this parade would bring people into the community to spend money,” said Forsyth County Chairman Pete Amos. “If it’s doing the opposite of that... Maybe we will have to see if we can move it.”

The parade route used to be held in downtown Cumming along Elm Street to Main Street, where the parade circled the town square and ended at the Cumming Fairgrounds.

White asked Mayor H. Ford Gravitt to move the parade during the State of the Community luncheon’s question-and-answer portion May 2.

“We’ve been asked this many times,” Gravitt said. “Keep in mind that this parade is sponsored by most of the merchants and businesses. The reason is to kick off the Christmas Holidays and it’s not the City of Cumming’s Parade.

“If the merchants decided they didn’t want it, we can move it to the square in Cumming.”