Tuesday's media statement, sent to media outlets, sponsors and fans, reads:
Oklahoma Gazette has announced that it will no longer produce Gazette’s Halloween Parade. As part of the news organization’s strategic planning in advance of its 35th anniversary in 2014, it will focus on its core drive of news and information delivery, with a particular emphasis on its interactive digital products.
“It’s been a fantastic seven years of parades,” said Gazette Publisher Bill Bleakley. “We attempted to create an artistic phenomenon that drew tens of thousands of people downtown for a great nighttime experience.”
The idea for the parade came from OSU President Burns Hargis, who, at the time, headed Creative Oklahoma. After his unsuccessful effort to enlist operational support from major civic and arts organizations, Bleakley offered to have the Gazette undertake the endeavor.
During the first four years, the headliner entry in the parade was the Flaming Lips’ March of 1,000 Flaming Skeletons. The image of hundreds of marchers in skeleton costumes bearing flaming torches and Lips frontman Wayne Coyne rolling down the parade route in a plastic bubble became an early icon of the parade.
“The Flaming Lips made a similar decision three years ago,” Bleakley said. “Their successful touring schedule finally took precedence over the parade and we greatly appreciated their contribution to past parades.”
“We’re grateful for our many financial sponsors of the parade who were there year after year, particularly the three presenting sponsors, Automobile Alley, Midtown OKC and St. Anthony Hospital and Party Galaxy, which supported the parade in so many ways.”
Bleakley said that sponsorship support was not the primary factor in the decision. “
We were not doing the parade to make money. It was for community service,” Bleakley said. “But you would not believe the amount of staff time it took to make it happen.”
The mission of the parade was to promote artistry, creativity and diversity in Oklahoma City and to present an eclectic array of entries ranging from pole dancers to deputy sheriffs in monster costumes.
Parade organizers and sponsors are hopeful that another organization has the interest and ability to continue the Halloween parade tradition.
Look for Oklahoma Gazette to participate in many new and creative projects and thanks to everyone for the great ride!