RALEIGH, N.C.(WNCN) — The City of Raleigh has announced it will not allow a special event permit application for the 2023 Christmas Parade.
“The decision was made out of an abundance of caution for parade participants and spectators, as well as respect for Hailey Brooks’ family and friends,” the city said in their announcement.
The Greater Raleigh Merchants Association has been the long-time organizer for the event.
“It was difficult to hear, it was very difficult to hear,” said the group’s Executive Director Jennifer Martin. “We love this parade, we love this community, and we really just wanted to be able to unite our community together, bring people back, find a way to honor this year. And I think for us it’s a huge disappointment for this town and this community.”
Martin said the group has been working on safety improvements and hired a safety consultant.
In 2022, Brooks was dancing alongside her dance team from CC & Co. Dance Complex when a pickup truck driven by 20-year-old Landen Glass hit and killed her. Glass was hired by the dance company to drive a float for them.
Through a statement, Brooks family attorney Jason Miller said they were disappointed the city chose to cancel the parade rather than adopt a new set of safety measures.
The statement goes on to say:
The City did not reach out to the family before making this decision. If consulted, the Brooks family would have urged the City to proceed with the Parade after implementing basic, common-sense safety protocols that should have been in place in 2022, such as those proposed in the Shine Like Hailey Parade Safety Act. It has been 10 months since Hailey Brooks was killed, and it is time for the City to honor her by enacting protections for the safety of this community – not by canceling the parade.
Brooks’ parents have pushed for more safety regulations since their daughter’s death. House Bill 633, or the Shine Like Hailey Parade Safety Act, was introduced earlier this year. It seeks to bring a new set of safety requirements to cities in the state with populations over 35,000.
Under the bill, any vehicle being used in a parade must be inspected for safety and verification of registration and insurance no more than seven days before the date of the parade.
CBS 17 asked the City’s Assistant City Manager what role the pending parade legislation, which is in a Senate committee, had on the decision.
“Well, it certainly factored into our conversation,” Raleigh said. “We realize that legislation would have pretty significant impacts for cities the size of ours and even smaller in terms of how much oversight, we’ll say, that we’d have to provide to support these parades.”
He said the city also discussed pending lawsuits.
“I don’t say that there was necessarily fear, but certainly awareness of them,” Raleigh said. “Again, we just thought the risks at this particular point outweighed the other considerations around moving forward.”
Raleigh Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin told CBS 17 in a statement:
“This was a difficult decision for many reasons. It was done out of respect for Hailey Brooks’, who was tragically killed last year, and her family. And with pending lawsuits and state legislation regarding parades, we felt this decision was best for the community. Our goal is to work with partners on events that celebrate the upcoming holidays, and ensure that we have appropriate rules and precautions in place for 2024, when we hope to continue this wonderful Raleigh tradition.”
GRMA had already begun to promote this year’s parade before they were notified a permit would not be issued. In an update on Aug. 18, the association said they were accepting applications for participants for the Nov. 18 parade. Organizers said they were implementing additional requirements for those participating this year which included a Certificate of Insurance from all participants.
2023 would have been the parade’s 79th year. According to GRMA, the parade took a short break during World War II but has otherwise gone on every year. The parade went virtual in 2020.
The city said several of their departments are working with partners on a variety of events and activities that everyone can enjoy. They are also looking for ways for small businesses to participate in those events.
Raleigh officials said they were looking forward to sharing more information about these opportunities in the coming weeks.
Glass was charged with misdemeanor death by motor vehicle, careless and reckless driving, improper equipment and unsafe movement. He was also charged with carrying a firearm, a Canik 9mm pistol, in a parade, the warrant said.