The Halloween parade is back

After being bombarded with letters and phone calls, the Ashland Chamber of Commerce decided Monday to reinstate the Children's Halloween Parade downtown.

The chamber's Halloween celebration committee made the decision after numerous parents and children expressed anger and sadness over last week's cancellation, said Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Sandra Slattery.

"We were surprised to find out how many people loved the parade, especially how many children loved it," Slattery said. "We thought, 'Well, let's sit down and see what we can do.' "

Slattery said after each year's parade the committee scrutinizes the celebration and hears public input about how to improve it for the next year. She said the committee's initial decision to cancel the parade was a hard one that took months to consider.

The committee, she said, "was under a lot of criticism for the parade the last few years."

"We received quite a few complaints, but maybe we misjudged how many people love the parade," Slattery said. "It was so great to see the community respond like it did. It reminds you what a great and wonderful thing this parade has become for the community."

Slattery said reports from past parades of people stepping on children and running into strollers and complaints from parents that their children were not having any fun were the primary reasons the chamber canceled the parade in the first place.

"We don't want that sort of stuff to happen," she said. "We're really going to rely on the community to step up and be respectful of children."

The chamber will begin discussing the parade's logistics this week, Slattery said. It likely will have a different setup than years past, in part because the chamber is still working to make the celebration child-friendly and would like to include the additional musical performances and activities it initially planned for this year's non-parade celebration, she said.

Slattery said one option could be to have the parade march down the street first, then send young trick-or-treaters after the crowd is far enough along.

"That way if you didn't want to be a part of the parade, you don't have to be, and the kids can still have the fun that we've intended for them," she said. "We're going to get something figured out."

A Facebook page titled "Bring Back The Ashland Halloween Parade" was formed Friday night, shortly after the cancellation was announced, and was "liked" over 550 times by Monday night. The page was quickly filled with posts from people pleading the chamber to reinstate the parade, and the chamber noticed, Slattery said.

"A lot of what we do is creating memories for kids," she said. "The community's response made us realize how important that is, and, really, that's what touched us."

Reach reporter Sam Wheeler at 541-499-1470 or email swheeler@dailytidings.com.

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