New Rochelle Mayor Bramson Praises Organizers and Funders of Now-Cancelled 2009 Thanksgiving Parade

Written By: Robert Cox

Mayor Bramson’s 2009 State of the City Address (March 19, 2009)

The State of the City may be strong (or not) but the state of the parade is DOA. Readers reminded me of how excitedly the Mayor announced that the City’s three colleges, Monroe, CNR, and Iona, had agreed to pay for the parade. Representatives of the three schools even stood to be recognized by the crowd. So, what happened? Our inquiries to all three schools have gone unanswered.

I have spoken tonight primarily about the role and responsibility of the public sector but we must remember that the character and strength of this city is defined by much more than municipal budgets and laws. Especially at a moment of great challenge, each of us is called to action. There are countless examples of citizens and groups, houses of worship and not-for-profits that are rising to this occasion…

…Coming together also means preserving the traditions and celebrations that make New Rochelle unique and special. And there’s no better example than the Thanksgiving Parade, organized every year by the New Rochelle Chamber of Commerce.

As most of you know, the parade has been supported in recent years by donations from John and Charles Valenti. We are deeply grateful for their generosity, and extend to them our sincere thanks.

This year, we learned that the Valentis could not continue their sponsorship, and that’s understandable, because no donor can be expected to maintain such a commitment indefinitely, and they have already done far more than their fair share. But this raised a serious question about the parade’s survival.

Tonight, happily, I can report that the parade will go on. New Rochelle’s three colleges, Monroe, CNR, and Iona, cornerstones of our city in so many ways, have each agreed to contribute the funds necessary to preserve this great community celebration.

I’d like to ask the representatives of these colleges to stand, so that we can together express our appreciation for their sense of civic responsibility, and for their help in a time of need.

During the speech, Mayor Bramson praises Denise Lally for the organizing the State of the City event. Lally, the director of the Chamber of Commerce, was let go shortly thereafter, at the behest of Rita Mabli, the president of the Chamber, who failed to inform the full board of directors of her intention to terminate the Chamber’s only paid position.

The phone number over at the New Rochelle Chamber of Commerce is now “temporarily disconnected” so with Rita Mabli, President of the Chamber’s Board of Directors did not pay the phone bill or she is in hiding. Listen as we call them at 914-576-2300.

The parade has gone off without a hitch for years under the leadership of Greg Pryce but Mabli drove him out of the Chamber of Commerce after more than two decades of membership, 15 of those on the board and the last 8 as Chairman of the Parade Committee. The long-time sponsor pulled out and “Plan B”, the colleges fell apart. Worse, it appears Mabli unilaterally decided to move the parade to the night before Thanksgiving without consulting many of those involved in the parade including school officials. School is closed that day and many people go away for the long weekend.

The Journal News is reporting on the cancellation of the Thanksgiving Parade: Organizer drops city’s Thanksgiving parade

The New Rochelle Chamber of Commerce canceled the event because of a lack of financial support and participation in the community, said Rita Mabli, president of the chamber’s board of directors. Some business leaders, though, said the parade was poorly planned from the start and the change reflected the chamber’s diminished role in the community.

I do not know Rita Mabli but there appears to a bit of a trend here. Since she has taken over the Haunted House has been cancelled, the Thanksgiving Day Parade has been cancelled, the Executive Director has been fired, the office has been moved out of a storefront location and made largely inaccessible to the casual passerby, the ribbon-cutting ceremonies have ended and the phones don’t work.

I suppose we are answering our own question when we asked: Time to Put a Fork in New Rochelle Chamber of Commerce? Or maybe just put a fork into the Mabli presidency. New leadership could hardly do any worse.

8 thoughts on “New Rochelle Mayor Bramson Praises Organizers and Funders of Now-Cancelled 2009 Thanksgiving Parade”

  1. Bands Dropping Out
    Why did the bands drop out of the parade? Was it because of the change is schedule? Was the change in schedule to move the OT off the city to the school district? Can anyone shed some light?

    1. Bands and Parade
      The School District will have an answer tomorrow at 7PM at their regular board of education meeting at Columbus School auditorium. Come on and ask questions.

    2. I’m glad the board will shed some light on this
      I don’t really know if the bands dropped out, that is what the Chamber told us. Some of the schools had no idea the parade was being cancelled when the chamber announced the cancellation. In fact, they were still practicing their routines after the announcement was made. The day it was announced, people at the chamber claimed one of the main reasons was the school band cancellations weeks before. They even considered doing the parade with DJ music, instead of bands, because with no music you can’t really have a parade. Again, I only would like to know in the hopes of preventing the same fiasco next year. It’s sad to think the city couldn’t run a privately funded parade without all this controversy.

  2. Maybe less people planned to
    Maybe less people planned to participate because of the switch from Saturday to Wednesday nite. Didn’t seem like that much of a difference to me, but perhaps to some it was. Such a shame to cancel with less than a month to go. I’m not even sure how expensive the whole parade could cost. What are the expenses? There are a lot of cops around, but I’d assume they got pulled from some othe detail and shouldn’t cost any extra to the city. DWP has to put up all the baricades, but again these workers are already on salary so I don’t really see how high the expenses could have gotten, but then again funding appears not to be the issue as the 3 colleges were funding things. All in all, a lot of disappointed kids will be running around this Thanksgiving.

    1. $10,000?
      I believe that is the amount.

      The issue is NOT the money at all. There are many companies that would have sponsored the parade.

      It is about leadership and organization (or lack thereof).

      I suppose what I find most amusing about the Mayor’s announcement is that HE is making the announcement at all. If you read his speech it is a key piece in the “community” portion of his speech. He cites TWO examples with the parade being one; the point being that the colleges have stepped forward.

      I have no idea why the original guy dropped out, or why the colleges dropped out or what but it is inconceivable that $10K was the problem. JPM/Chase, ConEd, Verizon, Stop & Shop and any number of businesses would have welcomed being the sponsor for that parade. In fact, if they had their act together they would not allow one person to PAY the cost of the parade they would get selling the naming rights for more than the cost. The “Stop & Shop New Rochelle Thanksgiving Parade”? Come on, that is a no brainer.

      Nope, this was not about money. It is about lack of leadership.

      1. To Find the Truth, Some Questions Need to be Answered
        You are correct Bob, money was not the issue at all. The corporations we reached out to were more than willing to support the time honored tradition. So, how is it that the chamber couldn’t find the support? More than a couple people we spoke to claimed the bands dropping out “weeks” before the chambers announcement played a big part in the final decision. Why did the bands “drop” out or was this an attempt to blame the school district? What purpose would that serve? To think that a city of this size could have a chamber of commerce lacking the ability to continue a decades long tradition. There is much work to get it going, but the groundwork is well established. They’re not inventing the parade, just repeating it. So, if it isn’t the money, what else could be so insurmountable so as to have everyone just give up? I don’t understand how the school board would have known and not let the individual schools know. Maybe I’ll never know, but the 200 plus school kids who didn’t get their chance to march deserve to know. The community deserves to know.

      2. problem with move to Wed night
        Greg Pryce served as Parade Chairman for the past 8 years. He quit that position, left the board and the chamber after decades. 2 months later you had Bramson announced that the previous sponsor dropped out, then (incorrectly) claimed that the 3 colleges had agreed to sponsor the parade which I have been told they never agreed to do, then Mr. Valenti agreed to fund it again, then he dropped out, then Rita Mabli decided to unilaterally move the parade to Wednesday night. She apparently did not know that the schools are closed Wednesday and that having the various school district employees bring their groups and organizations to the parade would mean paying them OT, also that many people had already made travel plans and that there were too many conflicts. I am told that the parade used to be held on Wednesday evenings for a very simple reason: Macy’s used New Rochelle as a “warm up” for their big parade in Manhattan – they paid for it and provided all sorts of support and participation. That ended a long time ago and the parade was moved to Saturday.

        The whole thing is a bollox from start to finish but I see no reason to blame sponsors, local businesses, the school district or even the Mayor. This is a failure of leadership. The leader is Rita Mabli. Do that math.

      3. Could one person alone destroy 47 years of tradition ?
        Failure of leadership is abounding these days, but is it possible one person (Mabli) has enough clout to keep others from rising up to the level of common sense ? Isn’t the Chamber of Commerce supposed to be a group of people working to support the city’s interest? Or just Mrs Mabli’s? Wed or Sat the overtime would be the same and would the getaway plans of travelers really have them returning in time for the Sat morn pancake breakfast (and in turn the parade)? The school bandleader arranged for the bands to be lead by others since he would not be around. Call me idealistic, but what happened to a parade just being a parade? Certainly you’ll never be able to satisfy everyone, and I guess that’s the point. Why the groups involved couldn’t get behind carrying on the tradition and putting petty politics aside is the embarrassment. The conflicting information leads to conclusions that include Mrs Mabli’s lack of leadership, but is certainly not limited to that. Whatever those reasons are, I would prefer to know as much as possible, not to blame or embarrass, but hopefully to try to head of the same embarrassing disaster next year, because I’m pretty sure the staff at the chamber won’t change much by then.

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