Pelham Palooza 2024 officially canceled

Published 4:04 pm Tuesday, May 28, 2024

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By DONALD MOTTERN | Staff Writer 

PELHAM – Following its postponement due to the prediction of severe weather, the city of Pelham has now confirmed that, due to a number of factors, Pelham Palooza 2024 will not be rescheduled and has been officially cancelled.

Pelham Palooza was originally set to take place on Saturday, May 18 but was delayed out of caution when predictions for severe weather led organizers to choose practicality and public safety over holding the event.

“We reviewed the models and proposed weather forecast provided by National Weather Service based at the Shelby County Airport, whose information put our event in the path of two-to-three inches of rain on Friday leading into Friday night with showers on Saturday,” said Paula Holly, an employee of the city of Pelham and organizer of the event. “Based on this information, the EMA director, Pelham Parks and Recreation director and the palooza team made the decision to postpone the event.”

In many ways, the size of the event also led to a situation where event organizers were unable to plan around the weather or adapt plans to better accommodate potential hurdles presented by the rain.

“We do a large amount of our setup on Friday,” Holly said. “This setup includes setting up tents, staking the larger tents into the ground and setting up the stage and sound equipment. Since our event utilizes both the large grass areas and sides of the trail at the Pelham Recreation Center, that amount of rain can render those areas unusable immediately after a heavy rain. Alternative locations were considered but based on availability and the size of the event, we weren’t able to find another space.”

Following the postponement, Holly and Brian Cooper, the director of Pelham Parks and Recreation, went before the Council during a work session on Monday, May 20 to present a number of plans on how to move forward.

Pelham Palooza’s usual planning phase typically takes a period of five to six months leading up to the event to ensure everything proceeds properly.

Necessary changes to entertainment contracts, vendor scheduling, marketing and an approaching holiday weekend all quickly ensured that an immediate rescheduling would prove difficult, if not impossible, and led to the palooza team settling upon a proposal to hold the rescheduled event sometime this fall.

However, that proposal soon led to self-admitted hurdles the team was not sure it could overcome. Chief among them was finding an open weekend not impeded by another city event or one impacted by the college fall football schedule.

“We sat down and looked at the calendar,” Cooper said. “We already have quite a bit going on at Parks and Recreation (in the fall) and there’s also the big elephants in the room on those Saturdays as it is—no pun intended,” Cooper said.

Further leaning against the plans for a fall rescheduling was the logistics of planning the outing while still maintaining the normal palooza in May, which has been historically tied to the Pelham Youth Sports Parade.

“If it was rescheduled then we’d have to start doing the work, that we’ve already done, again,” Holly said. “Then, by having it again in May the following year—we’d be starting work on the next one literally six weeks after the (rescheduled) palooza.”

City Council members Chad Leverett, Rick Wash and Maurice Mercer all expressed desires to maintain the event in its usual Spring timeslot and acknowledged the clear problems related to holding the events in quick succession. During the work session, many members of the Council also expressed their concerns of not wanting to overwork and overextend those in charge of the event’s organization.

Additionally, the financial aspect of rescheduling the event was also of chief concern to both the organizers and the Council.

The money already spent in preparation of the event totals to roughly $23,000 in funds that cannot be reimbursed. To reschedule in the fall, the city would have had to pay a considerable sum of that money again, as it constitutes updated media coverage, entertainment deposits, signage and parts of the musical entertainment contracts.

“We’d spend just over $10,000 on the same stuff again (just) to reschedule it,” Holly said.

Following the exploration of all of these factors, the decision to cancel the ninth annual outing of the city’s largest event of the year, while not arrived at easily, was the conclusion arrived to by the Pelham City Council.

Additional funds typically used on the day of the Pelham Palooza are still in hand for the city and were not spent due to the event’s cancellation. At the current time, it is now the city’s stated intention to use those funds to embolden and bolster already planned events on the city’s calendar.

“The Pelham Parks and Recreation department host numerous events throughout the year, including Movies in the Park, Music in the Park, Paws in the Park and other fun activities,” Holly said. “The remaining budgeted funds for the palooza will be allocated to enhance those events.”

Pelham Palooza, along with its celebration of youth athletes, is expected to return in its normal form next Spring.