This letter was shared with Inweekly:
Director Ghio, SRIA Board Members, County Commissioners and ECSO staff,
I am writing to express my extreme disappointment and frustration at last night’s decision to deny four Mardi Gras Krewes the opportunity to remedy an honest, human mistake and participate in the Krewe of Wrecks parade.
As documented in the Island Times article (https://myislandtimes.com/Articles/sria-board-hears-updates-on-walkovers-advertising-and-audits), the exception over a missed safety meeting has been granted in the past. To be denied the chance to participate because of a missed meeting is unfair to well over 300 members of the combined Krewes. These Krewe members invest hundreds of hours, thousands of dollars and go to great efforts to be a part of the Mardi Gras festivities – which in the end help fund the charities that each Krewe supports.
The Krewe of Saint Patrick has members from out of state who travel here specifically to participate in the parades. Additionally, many of our members invite friends and family to visit Pensacola & Pensacola Beach during Mardi Gras to enjoy the festivities and help support our local tourism economy. At a quick glance, the economic impact of this decision is easily over $300K. Let’s assume 300 Krewe members spend an average of $100 on parade day and $1000 during the year on dues, costumes, beads and supplies – $330,000 wasted.
As a founding member of the Krewe of St Patrick, we have participated in the parade the last 9 years, our President is an active LEO and many members are well acquainted with the rules and nuances of parade safety. I find it hard to believe that there are earth-shattering rule changes that couldn’t be addressed in a simple webinar or phone call. Also mentioned in the Island Times article – “The Krewe of Wrecks board was not invited to the meeting although SRIA Executive Director Paolo Ghio stated these “are the Krewe of Wrecks’ rules.”
I would like to ask if this discussion can be re-opened and include the Krewe of Wrecks Board, the four Krewes, the SRIA Director, ECSO and any other relevant parties. The four Krewes are not asking for a simple pass /excuse but have stepped up and offered to bear any financial costs for a make-up meeting and correct the mistake. I am also asking that if the Krewe of Wrecks Board is amenable to the make-up meeting for the four Krewes, that the same exception be granted as has been to other Krewes in the past.
Thanks in advance for your time and consideration – Mike