A community loss

A float sponsored by Holy Family School drives down Main Street during the 2015 Malone Winter Carnival parade. The parade will not return this year; the school closed at the start of the current academic year.

The Malone Winter Carnival parade has seen its share of ups and downs over its roughly 60-year lifespan, but the cancellation of the event this year seems to indicate the parade may be down for the count.

And that’s too bad.

The parade offered a welcome diversion at a time when the area’s often-brutal winter weather left many residents hunkered down in their homes, waiting almost desperately for the return of spring. It was also one of those rare opportunities for the entire community to come together to enjoy a shared experience.

But its demise was not altogether a surprise.

In the past, the parade –– and the Winter Carnival as a whole –– was put on by a large committee of volunteers, which parceled out the individual events to smaller subcommittees but retained overall responsibility for the event. Over time, the umbrella committee fell away and the number of smaller events shrank.

In recent years, the responsibility for the carnival was taken on by first the Greater Malone Area YMCA and subsequently the Malone Chamber of Commerce. Those groups coordinated the parade and the Winter Carnival Revue and left the ancillary events to other organizations or individuals.

Neither the Y nor the chamber has the manpower needed to organize those two components, much less the entire carnival, while fulfilling their core missions. And volunteers were in short supply.

Chamber President Mary Scharf noted that it wasn’t just the number of volunteer organizers that had dwindled –– the number of individuals and organizations participating in the parade had fallen off as well. Scharf blamed the cold weather and the timing of the event during area schools’ winter break for the decline, but we have to wonder if the falloff was more the result of people having too many other responsibilities and/or a lack of interest in contributing to their community –– a problem faced by fire departments, rescue squads and other organizations that rely heavily on volunteers.

Scharf also noted that the Parade of Lights, held prior to Christmas, has been successful in its two years of existence and that it is expected to continue to grow. If not for that event, the chamber would try to keep the Winter Carnival parade alive, she said.

The Parade of Lights, which serves as a fundraiser for Habitat for Humanity, is organized entirely by volunteers. We have to wonder if the novelty of the event or its clearly defined charitable purpose encourages more people to get involved –– and we hope it won’t share the fate of the Winter Carnival parade in the future.

While the Winter Carnival parade will not take place this year, it appears that plans are still in the works for the Winter Carnival Revue and the Miss Winter Carnival Pageant. The revue is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 28, at the Malone Middle School. Details of the pageant, which was first staged in 2016, have not yet been released,

So there will be at least some events to help chase away the winter blahs. And we can only hope that the parade, which has risen phoenix-like at least twice in the past, can one day return to the streets of Malone to bring a bright light to the community –– no matter how cold and gray the day might be.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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