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ESCONDIDO: Rincon Indians rescue city's Christmas parade

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  • Robert Schmidt
    http://www.nctimes.com/articles/2008/09/23/news/inland/escondido/z162bafb23 f778a9c882574cd006879b5.txt ESCONDIDO: Rincon Indians rescue city s Christmas
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 30, 2008
      http://www.nctimes.com/articles/2008/09/23/news/inland/escondido/z162bafb23
      f778a9c882574cd006879b5.txt

      ESCONDIDO: Rincon Indians rescue city's Christmas parade
      New security fee had jeopardized popular event

      By DAVID GARRICK - Staff Writer | Tuesday, September 23, 2008 5:51 PM PDT ?

      ESCONDIDO -- The Rincon Indian tribe has given Escondido residents an early
      Christmas present -- $15,000 donation that has rescued the city's annual
      holiday parade from possible cancellation.

      The donation will cover a new city security fee that had jeopardized the
      58-year-old parade, which takes place in early December each year. The fee
      was approved by the City Council this June in an effort to shrink a steep
      budget deficit created by plummeting sales tax revenue.

      The Escondido Jaycees, longtime organizers of the parade, said Tuesday they
      were both shocked and pleased by the last-minute donation.

      Club members had been slated to vote on canceling the parade Wednesday
      night because they need at least two months to plan and coordinate the
      event, said club member Wally Gutierrez. But their meeting will now almost
      definitely result in their formally declaring that the parade will go on as
      usual this year, he said.

      "I believe the answer will be 100 percent yes," said Gutierrez.

      Shortly after the new security fee was announced, leaders of the Escondido
      Rotary Club and the East Valley merchants association said they would
      consider providing money and other support. But after much discussion and
      several meetings, neither group rescued the parade.

      Gutierrez said Rotary eventually offered to donate $5,000 if the Jaycees
      could raise the rest of the money elsewhere, but club members said that was
      unlikely. The East Valley merchants have offered to provide volunteers, but
      no financial assistance.

      Searching for another solution, Gutierrez said he e-mailed the Rincon tribe
      Sept. 14.

      Bo Mazzetti, vice chairman of the Rincon tribal council in Valley Center,
      said the donation was inspired by the tribe's long relationship with the
      city and its public schools.

      "We are pleased we are able to express our appreciation for this important
      holiday tradition and support its continued celebration," Mazzetti said in
      a press release.

      It is not clear whether the Rincon tribe will cover the $15,000 security
      fee in 2009 and beyond. Mazzetti did not return several phone calls
      Tuesday.

      The tribe, which governs a 5,000-acre reservation in Valley Center,
      generates most of its revenue from the Harrah's Rincon Resort and Casino.
      Tribe spokeswoman Nikki Symington said the tribal council approved the
      $15,000 donation over the weekend.

      Budget deficits prompted city officials to begin charging community groups
      for the police officers who provide security at their events. Other events
      affected are Cruisin' Grand, the Fourth of July fireworks, Grape Day
      Festival and First Night Escondido.

      Critics have called the move shortsighted, contending that the new policy
      could kill some cherished Escondido traditions while saving the city only
      $68,000 per year. But the City Council has touted the notion of "cost
      recovery," arguing that the city should be reimbursed when it provides
      police for events.

      Councilman Ed Gallo, who is also a longtime member of the Jaycees, said the
      Rincon donation was totally unexpected.

      "I would never have thought to call a tribal band in Valley Center to help
      us out with the Christmas parade," said Gallo. "It's so great that they
      helped save this great tradition. Grandparents who marched in the parade a
      long time ago now get to watch their grandchildren march."

      Gutierrez said the uncertain fate of the parade has been frustrating for
      the Jaycees and the many groups who participate each year. But Gutierrez
      said he is confident that most of the groups will still participate.

      The club and city officials had explored some alternate routes for the
      parade this summer that could have reduced the need for security. But the
      parade will again follow its traditional route along Broadway, Gutierrez
      said.

      Anyone wishing to volunteer should attend the Jaycees meeting, said
      Gutierrez. It will start at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Cocina del Charro, 525 N.
      Quince St.

      Contact staff writer David Garrick at (760) 740-5468 or
      dgarrick@....
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