This year’s homecoming parade will come a little closer to home this year, as it will be held solely on campus rather than starting downtown as it has for the past several years. The decision was made by the University Students’ Council in response to the news that the London Police Service would be unable to provide officers for the parade.
“London police, in the past, have basically given us pro bono service, but this year they indicated they wouldn’t be able to secure the route,” Adam Fearnall, president of the USC, said. “We were left with an unbudgeted expense that we would have had to go to council with, but based on student feedback we decided to make a go of hosting it on campus.”
Sergeant Ryan Scrivens of the London Police Service’s traffic management unit said the police could not afford to provide security for free this year.
“The cost wasn’t going to be entirely unloaded on the university, but there was going be a cost depending on the route that was chosen, because that would determine the number of officers,” Scrivens said.
Fearnall explained the police gave the dwindling attendance of the parade as a reason for the change this year, compared to other, better-attended events.
“For example, if you take the Santa Claus parade, the police know there’s going to be a significant number of people from the city drawn to the event,” Fearnall explained. “So it makes sense to staff it, and not have to worry about pulling officers from other parts of the city.“
“However, the police service thought for the homecoming parade—given the low turnout—was that it didn’t make a lot of sense to pull people from areas where there’s still a need for police.”
Scrivens cited the increased need for police presence during the rest of homecoming as an example of other priorities for the force.
“I can’t have officers assigned to a parade if they have to work that night and into the morning.”
Erin Uberig, vice-president student events for the USC, said she wasn’t surprised to hear about the dwindling attendance.
“You don’t see a ton of students getting super excited about the parade—not many of them would list it as the highlight of their homecoming,” Uberig said. “So we decided to focus on the quality of the parade, rather than the length and location.”
“We’re also going to try to push the parade back later in the day […] so more students can sleep in and then come out and see it.”
Fearnall explained the location of next year’s parade would be revisited later in the year.
“I think it will be interesting to see what the student feedback is. [The campus parade] is not the only way to go,” Fearnall said. “We’d be just as happy to put the parade back downtown, but it would be up to the council whether or not that’s something to be budgeted for.”