No more Oktoberfest parades?

by Nickalas Tabbert

 Oktoberfest organizers threatened Wednesday to cancel the Maple Leaf Parade – the hallmark of La Crosse's largest annual festival – if the city requires the group to pay $18,000 in new parade fees.

The fees are part of a revenue-generating system adopted by the city to help balance its budget, the La Crosse Tribune said.  Festival organizers said they cannot afford them and have suspended plans for the Maple Leaf, Torchlight, and opening day parades.

"We regret having to take this action," Board President Jen Keller said in a written statement.  "Our challenge, at this point, is our capacity to absorb an $18,000 expense at this late date in our planning – especially given our overall festival and financial picture."

Oktoberfest is one of the world's largest German heritage celebrations.  The 2011 Maple Leaf Parade attracted more than 100,000 spectators, the article said.

According to organizers, the festival lost $40,000 last year and required the city's police department to spend about $150,000 to control sometimes unruly crowds in a party that spanned nearly the entire city.

"There's a serious public safety concern," Police Chief Ed Kondracki said.  "We need people at all the intersections. It's gotten increasingly expensive."