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Cabarrus Events Association has lost Kannapolis Christmas parade to Smith Family Baseball

By Emily Ford
eford@salisburypost.com
KANNAPOLIS ó The group that has run the Kannapolis Christmas parade since 1999 says the city and a minor league baseball team have bitten off more than they can chew by taking over the popular yuletide event.
“They have no … idea,” said John Howard, vice president of the Cabarrus Events Association. “I don’t think they understand what they have taken on.”
Kannapolis City Council voted 4-3 Monday to let Smith Family Baseball, which owns the Kannapolis Intimidators, manage the parade. Roger Haas, Gene McCombs and Darrell Hinnant voted no.
After council informally agreed last month to the new arrangement, the events association complained and made a presentation, even offering to organize the parade for free.
In the past, the city has paid the group $5,000.
Smith Family Baseball will manage the parade for free and will turn over any profit to the city.
The parade lost about $4,000 last year, with revenue of $14,517 and expenses of $18,426. But in previous years, the parade has turned a profit of as much as $9,800.
If the parade doesn’t make money this year, Smith Family Baseball will subsidize the event, city manager Mike Legg said.
Howard and Brenda Drye, executive director and the only paid employee of the Cabarrus Events Association, said they were stunned and hurt to learn from a newspaper article last month that the city was giving the parade to Smith Family Baseball.
The Chamber of Commerce created the Cabarrus Events Association specifically to manage Christmas parades in Kannapolis and Concord, Howard said.
The city “doesn’t have the authority to give it to someone else,” he said.
Legg said the city issues a permit for the event, giving it the power to “dictate most of what occurs.”
The events association already had a date set and entries for the parade, as well as a sponsor, CMC-Northeast, Drye said. The group had a verbal agreement from Legg to manage the parade, she said.The parade has been organized by a multitude of groups over the past 76 years, Legg said.
Smith Family Baseball, which puts on more than 100 events a year, is qualified to run the parade, said vice president Tim Mueller, who co-chaired the city’s centennial committee.
“The parade has a long tradition and a wonderful history,” Mueller said. “We will inject some ideas and some great additions, but when all is said and done, this is not going to be my parade or the Kannapolis Intimidators’ parade, it’s going to be the city’s parade.”
The team will hold the parade in the afternoon, which will attract more marching bands and entrants, Legg said.
Some council members were concerned that the events association dictated the parade date based on the availability of professional floats and held it at night, when they felt it was less safe.
Smith Family Baseball approached the city unsolicited, Legg said.
But in the end, the decision to sign the agreement with the Intimidators “was more about having a partner that has a strong and developing relationship with the city,” Legg said.
He said the city will “scrutinize the way it’s managed.”
Howard said a dispute over another event his group managed, the Village Fest, caused the city to give the parade to the baseball team.
Legg disagreed.
Currently, there are no plans for a spring festival next year, and $5,000 in the city budget earmarked for the Cabarrus Events Association will go unspent, Legg said.
“The last thing I want to do is get into the parade business,” said council member Hinnant, who voted against the agreement. “And I think that’s where this might be headed.”

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