The organizers of a victory parade to honor the national champion University of Connecticut men's basketball team say they might cancel the Sunday event if they can't raise enough money to pay for it by Friday.
That decision would not affect the scheduled celebration for the team at the state Capitol on Sunday.
Mike Zaleski, executive director of the Hartford Business Improvement District, which is sponsoring the parade, said it has raised about $25,000 so far in donations from individuals, businesses and corporations. The parade will cost an estimated $50,000 for state workers, police coverage, insurance, sound equipment, cleanup and other costs.
Zaleski said that he couldn't recall the improvement district ever asking for financial aid from the state or city for earlier events honoring championship teams and that the organization won't do so this year.
"Given the state and city's budget situation, it's not something we want to do," he said. "We're doing our best to get private business support."
If the $50,000 goal isn't reached by Friday morning, Zaleski said, the parade portion of the event will be called off.
"People might not realize how much it costs to put this on," he said, adding that the group is grateful for the support it has gotten so far. "This is difficult to do in a short period of time, but we're hopeful."
If the parade goes on as scheduled, organizers said it will take about 45 minutes and follow the same 1-mile route as last year's parade for the UConn women. It will step off from the state Capitol, traveling north on Trinity Street along Bushnell Park, turn right onto Jewell Street, left onto Gold Street, right onto Main Street and right onto Capitol Avenue before returning to the north steps of the Capitol.
Zaleski said private parking lot operators have been asked to offer "event parking" for the day, though they are not required to do so.
Mark McGovern, CEO of the Hartford Parking Authority, said his agency would offer free parking at the Morgan Street garage on Sunday and a flat rate of no more than $6.50 at two of its garages on Church Street.
Zaleski said organizers have encouraged restaurants that normally open for dinner at 4 p.m. to open early for the 3 p.m. parade.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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