By Richard Van Winkle, News of Mill Creek.
The Mill Creek City Council is considering a number of changes to city-sponsored community events for 2019. The changes include replacing the Memorial Day Parade with a parade on Armed Forces Day, moving the Mill Creek Farmers Market from Fridays to Tuesdays, and combining the Trunk or Treat and Treats on Main Street events.
Director of Communications and Marketing Joni Kirk presented staff’s community event recommendations at their January 8, 2019, meeting.
Kirk said, “One of our key goals is to help our community be engaged, to have that civic participation and that includes our events and not just coming to council meetings or being involved in boards, it’s also being engaged in the day to day things the city does provide for our community.”
The change that received the most comments from the city council was replacing the Memorial Day Parade with a more inclusive Celebrate Your Community Parade as part of the new Mill Creek Days events.
Kirk told the city council that the Memorial Day and Veterans Day events are very similar to one another and the perceived decline in Memorial Day Parade attendance/participation may be attributed to their similar natures.
She added, “Further, staff has received feedback from other military members that Memorial Day should be a day of remembrance and more somber; they feel it is more respectful to just have a commemorative ceremony and not hold a parade.”
Kirk proposed an entirely new week-long set of events in May called Mill Creek Days, which would include a Celebrate Your Community Parade as the Saturday finale. She said a number of local community and cultural groups would be invited to participate in the parade as well as military and veterans groups.
Kirk said that this series of events in the tourism “shoulder season” would not compete with other local events and “provides more opportunity for grant funding.”
Councilmember Mark Bond commented that Mill Creek Days would provide an opportunity for usually absent members of the Asian community to become more involved in city events.
Councilmember Vince Cavaleri didn’t agree that the Memorial Day Parade should be replaced. He said that including other community groups would take attention from veterans and was “offended by it a little bit” that the change was suggested.
During the public comments portion of the meeting the city’s contracted Veterans Day and Memorial Day event manager, Lt. Col. Jon Ramer, United States Air Force retired, suggested that since the parade at the end of Mill Creek Days falls on Armed Forces Day, that the name of the new parade could be the Armed Forces Day Parade.
Ramer went on to say the feedback he received is that many veterans are already booked for Memorial Day and Armed Forces Day would be a better choice for a parade if veteran participation is desired.
He said in his opinion as someone who served in the military for 25 years and who lost friends in combat, Memorial Day is a time to remember and Armed Forces Day is a great day for a celebration.
Kirk told the city council that the issue would be brought before them again at a future city council meeting.
Click on this link to see all of the proposed event changes: 2019 Community Events.