Parades and celebrations that bring an entire community together are deeply woven into the fabric of Nebraska and the Midwest as a whole.
Seemingly any and every town celebrates a holiday or its heritage with a parade down Main Street. Carnival rides spin along a midway, where funnel cakes and cotton candy are for sale.
But Lincoln lacks such a community-wide parade. City Councilman Roy Christensen, who’s introduced plans for a Veterans Day parade, noted this gaping void in announcing his plan. Yet, cost constraints have shrunk the proposed parade in Havelock to a smaller-scale event at Mahoney Park.
Yes, Lincoln needs a parade — whether it’s on Veterans Day, as Christensen proposed, or for some other reason. This may seem like an insignificant topic about which to opine, but a celebration of community pride and the positive outcomes from such a get-together are worth the small investment needed to create and hold one.
The Star City Parade, a tradition that began in 1983, was a unique Lincoln event. Funding concerns sparked by the Great Recession, both for the city and private donors, unfortunately scuttled it.
The absence of a parade since, in a booming capital city of more than 280,000, is mildly embarrassing. Parades, carnivals, midways — they’re all family-friendly traditions for American children and parents to enjoy.
Towns a fraction the size of Lincoln draw thousands to their community for one-day or weekend festivals: Look to the west, such as Seward or Wilber, to see cities wholeheartedly embracing the concept. Even towns with populations of only a few hundred know how to throw an annual parade and party that serve as a point of collective pride.
Uncle Sam Jam, held around July 4, is probably the closest active celebration to that scope, with its fireworks display. That day, a variety of neighborhoods also play host to a variety of small, parochial processions. Maybe Independence Day can be the impetus to grow these organic events into something bigger and more befitting of a city the size of Lincoln.
Lincoln is a booming, diverse community worth celebrating, from Arnold Heights to Cheney. We encourage City Hall, business leaders and other city stakeholders to discuss a parade and the ancillary concerns that must be addressed to get something off the ground.
Any event in Lincoln would lack the tradition seen in age-old celebrations elsewhere. More than likely, it would start small — and that’s OK. With adequate time, resources and support, a community-wide parade could be nurtured to become the showcase for Lincoln pride that the city has lacked for far too many years.