The North Park Toyland Parade has a new host organization, which plans to expand the event in an effort to make it more business- and neighborhood-friendly. The Toyland Parade is an annual event held each December to provide the community with a family-friendly holiday event.
Victoria House Corporation, a North Park non-profit, is now the fiscal and administrative coordinator of the parade. “We’re going to make the parade route longer, solicit more people to participate and have more entries,” said Li’Ma’A.A.J., director of ethics and compliance for Victoria House.
Debra Fuentes, Victoria House director of marketing, added, “We want to keep the integrity of the original parade while making it our own.”
Fuentes said Victoria House plans to add a festival immediately following the parade with the intent of “having people stay after and enjoy North Park.”
Though still early in the planning stages, Fuentes said the new parade and festival will include a Santa Claus, puppet shows, food and refreshments, Christmas caroling and local high school students performing in the North Park Theatre. The parade is currently scheduled for Dec. 1.
A press release issued by North Park Main Street stated, “The North Park Businessman’s Club organized the first Holiday Parade in 1931 in an effort to attract holiday shoppers and celebrate their community. It was an instant success, becoming more or less an annual affair until the 1960s.” North Park Main Street lists the 2012 Parade as the 49th annual.
The release further stated, in the mid-1980s, the Parade was revived and found supporters within the growing North Park Main Street Business Improvement District (BID). In 2006, the BID took over the event. Since then, the North Park BID has raised funds and organized the Parade with the help of volunteers.
However, due to limited resources, the BID voted in January to relinquish responsibility for the Toyland Parade.
“A parade is quite an intensive logistical event and with a staff of two relying on volunteers, we were being diverted from what our BID is designed to do,” said Angela Landsberg, North Park Main Street BID executive director.
Landsberg said the BID’s primary mission is to promote business and cultural development while creating a more pedestrian-friendly North Park.
“While we do events, the Parade is not one that really fits into our organization’s purpose,” she said. “It’s more of a community event and we are not a community group. Victoria House is better suited along those lines, and they were willing to take on the project.”
Sarah Morrison, a past Toyland Parade chair, and Patrick Edwards, a member of the North Park Main Street Board of Directors, both said they believe transferring the Parade to Victoria House is a positive move.
“The Parade will benefit by having more available resources, both manpower and money, to put towards the event. The legacy of this event needs to continue, but North Park Main Street is not the appropriate vehicle to move it forward,” Morrison said. “I am glad the parade has found a new home with Victoria House and look forward to bringing my own family to the parade for years to come.”
Edwards, who was involved in resurrecting the parade in 1985, said, “The parade is not the problem. Getting volunteers to step forward for six to eight months of organizing is really the problem.”
He added that looking at “the big picture” solidified North Park Main Street’s decision to pass on parade sponsorship.
“We wanted to make sure this parade had every opportunity for longevity and success,” Edwards said. “It was our intent to find another organization that would make that possible. Victoria House will do a wonderful job. They’ve already hit the ground running.”
For more information about Victoria House and its sponsorship of the annual Toyland Parade, visit vhcorp.org.