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Houston Holiday Parade Up In The Air — Floats Are Sold To Hidalgo

The future for Houston's annual Thanksgiving Day parade is unclear after its organizer announced that it will no longer produce it. The Houston Festival Foundation says it couldn't keep up with the rising costs.

The nonprofit organization said it was a “difficult decision” but the event cost more than $500,000 to produce each year, and for the last three years sponsorship didn’t cover that cost.

On Wednesday, HFF announced that it’s stepping down from producing the holiday parade, which it had done since 1995.

Last month, the group sold five of its floats to the city of Hidalgo.

Kay Wolf, Assistant City Manager of Hidalgo, said her city is excited to have the floats. She said she saw an online posting offering the floats — including the big turkey and Santa Claus sleigh — for sale in June.

She said there is a close partnership between HFF and Hidalgo’s festivals and she was happy to help out.

Wolf called the purchase — $30,000 for the five floats — “a good deal”.

In a statement, Houston Mayor Annise Parker said she is “disappointed that HFF is having financial difficulties and is walking away from producing the annual holiday parade and has sold all of the event’s assets.”

But she said discussions are underway to see whether the parade can be saved.

Kim Soilis, president and CEO of HFF, said her group had been trying to find a new organizer for the event since January but there was no interest.

She said the group will focus on the Houston International Festival and its education programs while rebuilding its financial health.

“The International Festival is a ticketed event that produces revenue to fund our education programs versus the free Holiday Parade that does not match out mission,” Soilis said.

The first Houston Thanksgiving Day parade was in 1949. HFF took over the production of the parade in 1995.