Divided Rockland Council orders Festival billed for parade coverage

By Stephen Betts | Jun 12, 2019
Photo by: Beth Birmingham file photo A scene from the 2018 Maine Lobster Festival parade.

Rockland — The Rockland City Council voted Monday night to end its longstanding practice of waiving the cost of police coverage for the annual Maine Lobster Festival parade.

The city has been charging the Festival for several years for use of the parks and police coverage around the Festival grounds but not for parade coverage. Last year, the Festival paid Rockland $17,101 for police coverage and $14,500 for use of Harbor, Buoy, and Merrill parks.

The Monday night vote to waive the fee for covering the 2019 parade failed on a 3-2 vote with Mayor Lisa Westkaemper and Councilors Valli Geiger and Amelia Magjik voting against the waiver. Councilors Ed Glaser and Ben Dorr supported continuing the waiver.

The vote means the Festival will be charged about $450 to $500 in addition to its other charges.

"I love parades and I super love this parade but this is not just targeting the parade. This is the Lobster Festival Corporation. This is a Festival that comes to town annually and makes tens of thousands of dollars, certainly thousands of dollars. Out of this tens of thousands, I don't think $450 is so much to ask," Magjik said.

Magjik said Rockland is a valuable place and should not be giving itself away. Rockland needs self valuing even it's only $450 at a time, she said.

Councilor Geiger said the Festival uses Rockland spaces during the height of the summer season. She said some downtown merchants say their sales drop significantly during the Festival.

Councilor Glaser pointed out that the Festival does not charge to attend the parade and that it is open to everybody.

He also pointed out that the Festival is a volunteer effort put on by community members. He said he has been to the parades since he was a young boy and that this waiver was appropriate.

The city began charging the Festival for use of the parks in 2014 after decades of waiving the costs.

The Festival donates thousands of dollars to various community projects each year and has helped the city maintain Harbor Park and to purchase Merrill Park. In May alone, the Festival donated $1,500 to the American Legion for the Midcoast Veterans Memorial Wall, and $500 to Oceanside High School.

Festival leaders over the years have argued that the Festival is an economic engine that helps lodging businesses, restaurants, and other stores.

Comments (5)
Posted by: Dale Hayward | Jun 13, 2019 22:40

Stephen: How can a council, asleep, wake up the festival?



Posted by: Stephen K Carroll | Jun 13, 2019 08:03

Thankfully some people still remember the damage the Festival Corporation caused to this city's reputation last year.  Although the festival's new president wants to distance the event from last years debacle, so far I have seen little change.  I attended last months festival meeting and saw little that was different.  I rejoined the organization hoping that with new leadership big needed changes would occur.  So far I have been disappointed.  It seems to be just more business as usual.  Hopefully, this move by the council will shake them awake.



Posted by: Francis Mazzeo, Jr. | Jun 13, 2019 06:22

Are they the Blessed Trinity or the Three Stooges ? Time will tell.



Posted by: Dale Hayward | Jun 12, 2019 20:25

STUPID IS AS STUPID DOES. GO CITY OF ROCKLANDIA, GET'M WHERE IT HURTS.



Posted by: Mary A McKeever | Jun 12, 2019 12:40

Good fun! Hopefully the political bickering will end and everyone will have a good time. I truly love my parade memories and hope the parade continues, politics aside!



If you wish to comment, please login.