For as long as Patty-Pat Kozlowski can remember, the Port Richmond Memorial Day Parade has been an important part of the long holiday weekend.
The tradition served as a source of pride within the Philadelphia neighborhood, which is made up of many military veterans and families. Extravagant string bands, flag raising ceremonies and plenty of food are all part of the patriotic show. Of course, none of it would be possible if not for the support of local businesses.
“Our local businesses have always chipped in,” said Kozlowski, former president and current member of the Port Richmond on Patrol and Civic Association (ProPac) which helps organize the parade. “Port Richmond is made up of mom and pop stores. They by far are the ones who come up to the plate for us.”
While the money has been hard to come by within recent years, it has always been available. That is, until this year.
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“The parade costs roughly $12,000,” said Kozlowski. “This year we’ve only raised a little over $2,000.”
For the first time in over 50 years, there won’t be a Memorial Day Parade in Port Richmond. The reason, according to Kozlowski, is purely economic.
“All our costs went up,” said Kozlowski. “Our insurance went up. The price we have to pay to the city for our police overtime went up. Our services and street closures and permits went up. We also have to pay every string band that performs.”
Kozlowski says the combination of rising costs and poor economy became too much for the local businesses to overcome.
“How many times can you go back and ask for $50 or $100?” she asked.
While there will be no parade this year, Kozlowski says the neighborhood will hold on to some traditions.
“We’re still doing a flag-raising at Campbell Square where the parade ends,” she said. “The Walter F. Mason Post will still go to a soldier’s grave and do a rifle salute and lay a wreath. That’s what Memorial Day is about.”
And despite her disappointment, Kozlowski is already looking towards the future.
“We’re just going to regroup and try and get more businesses involved and more organizations,” she said.
“I can guarantee and promise you it’ll be back.”