St. Anthony’s VillageFest parade cancelled


The parade that takes place each year during St. Anthony’s VillageFest, seen above in a recent year, has been canceled due to a lack of public safety resources in St. Anthony following the shooting death of Philando Castile. Mageen Caines, parade chairwoman, expressed regret, saying the parade “has always been about unity,” and that “it’s for the children.”

Officials say city’s resources stretched to their limits

St. Anthony Village and the VillageFest Committee decided last week to cancel the festival’s annual parade, which was scheduled to take place Friday, Aug. 5. 

The decision comes after the July 6 shooting death of Philando Castile by a St. Anthony police officer in Falcon Heights.

“In light of the recent events surrounding St. Anthony, and the impact that has had on our Village and surrounding areas, VillageFest has partnered with the city and has made the difficult decision to cancel the parade,” the July 14 statement from organizers said. 

The police shooting of Castile, a 32-year-old black man, and the aftermath, which has included regional protests and unrest, have, according to the city, overextended the St. Anthony Police Department.

“The parade requires an extensive amount of resources from the police, fire and public works departments, that are currently stretched to their limits,” the statement said. “With that being said, we have decided to forego the parade.”

The statement goes on to say that the city’s police force has had to partner with surrounding law enforcement agencies to provide appropriate services to St. Anthony and the cities it contracts police services out to, Lauderdale and Falcon Heights. 

Officials emphasized that the other VillageFest activities will go on as planned, including the festivities Friday evening, which were going to take place after the parade. 

“VillageFest is about celebrating the great community that we have, and while that might look different this year, we want to continue the tradition of this local and cherished celebration,” the statement said. 

 

‘Disappointing’ news

Not all, however, are in favor of this decision. 

Parade chair Mageen Caines said she is disappointed. 

“I personally don’t want people to lose hope quite yet,” she said in an interview, explaining that she’s been receiving calls from residents asking “if there’s any other way we can make it happen.”

“I disagree with the decision to cancel it,” Caines said. “I really think that now is a time for unity. This is a time to come together as a community.”

She said she is grateful that the entire Village-
Fest celebration, Aug. 5-7, wasn’t canceled, but she said the parade is a unique event during the weekend festival and it will be missed by residents, and especially the kids. 

Caines, who has two children, ages 4 and 6, noted that “they were so excited about the parade this year.” 

“From my point of view, the purpose of the parade has always been about the children,” she said. “I really stand behind sending them a strong message that their community is safe ... It’s something we’ve done for decades now.” 

St. Anthony officials emphasized the decision was meant to keep the community safe. 

“We know this is not welcome news as the parade is a highlight of our festival,” the statement said. “But please know we have made this with the best of intentions to keep our community safe.”

 

Jesse Poole can be reached at jpoole@lillienews.com or at 651-748-7815. Follow him at @JPooleNews.

Rate this article: 
No votes yet
Comment Here