June 6, 2017 at 3:05 am #2264july4321Participant
Employees from the Center for Mental Health and private citizens have stepped up to the plate to take over operations for the city’s Fourth of July parade.
In a fitting tribute to this community effort, the theme of this year’s parade will be “United We Stand.”
After 11 years at the helm, former organizer Lola Galloway made one last push to save the event, holding a meeting Tuesday at the Paris Gibson Square Museum of Art to hand over the event to a new generation.
Galloway, 57, knew the parade was in trouble after last year’s event saw her volunteers winnowed down to her own family, the family of her co-chair Ken Hagler and a handful of local military members.
The final blow came when Hagler moved from Great Falls to Washington, D.C.
“I could never have done a parade without him,” said Galloway, “because he took one half and I took another half, and we just had a system that worked.”
After pleading for help and finding none, Galloway told the Great Falls Park and Recreation Department in February that she wasn’t going to put on a 2017 parade.
When the news broke in May that there might not be a Fourth of July parade, the possibility stirred enough public interest for Galloway to schedule Tuesday’s meeting.Present at the meeting were Center for Mental Health employees Rebecca Laubach and Kristi Johnson, Rebecca Engum of the Great Falls Tourism Alliance and Keern Haslem of the Paris Gibson Square Museum of Art.
Also in attendance were private citizens Josh DeNully and Galloway’s son, Spencer.
Everyone’s reason for attending was to make sure Great Falls has a parade this year.
Spencer Galloway has helped his mother with several parades, so he brings his experience and a new enthusiasm to the committee. Both he and DeNully have designs on taking a bigger role in city affairs, so the parade was a good place to start.
Although CEO Sydney Blair could not be reached for comment on the Center for Mental Health’s official role in planning the parade, Kate Gangner, who manages the Supported Employment and Day Treatment Programs at CMH, was optimistic about the center’s employee involvement.
“We are doing it,” she said, “and it’s going to be my two young employees down here who will be the bulk of contact.”
Gangner said she has briefly discussed the idea of the center spearheading the parade, but nothing has been solidified at this time.
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