‘We make mistakes.’ Raleigh pauses parade permits as city manager apologizes for missteps

Raleigh won’t issue any new parade permits until it evaluates its procedures after facing criticism over its handling of the Veterans Day and Christmas parades.

The pause in permits announced Tuesday also came with an apology from the city’s top staff manager, City Manager Marchell Adams-David. She apologized for recent missteps in how the city has managed its parade permits.

“While we are fully committed to doing great work all the time, we don’t always hit the mark,” Adams-David said. “We’re human. We make mistakes. And I’m a firm believer that you own your mistakes. When you make them, then you create opportunities so that you don’t repeat them continuously.”

The Raleigh Christmas Parade will go on as planned Nov. 18. The event was issued a permit Tuesday.

“I acknowledge that some mistakes have occurred in our processes, and in our communication,” she said. “Please be assured that all of our actions related to these events have been and will continue to be motivated by our desire to ensure the health, safety and welfare of those that attend or take part in them.”

Organizers of the North Carolina Veterans Day parade were forced to cancel the parade this past weekend after the city notified them they would not be allowed to have motorized vehicles.

The parade’s organizer, Richard Spyrison, president of the Wake County Council of Veteran, said he was disappointed city notified them three days before the event.

“If they had given us two, three, four weeks on this, we would have been able to change something, to adapt,” Spyrison told The News & Observer last week. “That’s what we do in the military. We adapt to the situation,” he said in a previous interview. “But giving us three days was too much to work with. We couldn’t do it.”

Christmas parade permit debate

In September, the city announced it was not issuing a parade permit for the Christmas parade, partly out of respect for the family of Hailey Brooks. Hailey was the 11-year-old girl who died after being hit by a runaway vehicle and float during the 2022 Christmas parade.

After public outcry, and a statement from the Brooks family, the city agreed to issue the permit if the parade didn’t have motorized vehicles.

Hailey’s father, Trey Brooks, said the parade should continue with floats and vehicles if there were commonsense rules and regulations in place. He said it was unfair for the city to say the parade cancellation was because of their family after officials had not consulted them.

Tuesday, Adams-David responded to the criticism, saying, “As we continue to evaluate our processes and procedures, it is clear that there’s more work to do.”

The goal, she said, is to have the guidelines in place early next year for parades to take place in 2024, starting with the St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

“Accountability and leadership go hand in hand,” she said. “We don’t just get the praises when things go well, we all know when it doesn’t go right. We fix it. And we come out bigger and better next year. And I’m looking forward to our parade season in 2024.”

This story will be updated as more information becomes available.