News 12 at 6 o'clock / Friday, Nov. 30, 2012
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Augusta's Christmas parade and tree lighting are Saturday, but not everyone is so eager to watch Santa roll through town. Some business owners say the event is dipping into their Christmas stockings.
Mayor Deke Copenhaver says the event has become a holiday tradition.
"Usually we have about 10,000 people having a great time for the lighting of the tree and the parade, so it's a great time for the city of Augusta," he said.
But not everyone is sold. Retail stores downtown say the parade kills their business.
"The only people that come in on Saturday during the Christmas parade, all they want to do is use the bathroom," said Bill Merry, owner of Merry's Trash and Treasures.
Johnny Finley, who owns United Loan and Firearms, agrees.
"I've got bills to pay, and we depend on these Saturdays leading up to Christmas to pay them," he said.
But not everyone downtown agrees.
Christine Sherer, who owns Blue Moon Cafe, says, "It's good for our business. And I really feel like it's good for the community."
Restaurants say the foot traffic really gives their business a boost.
"I'd like to see more of it. I'd like to see more community events downtown," she said.
But shops that don't sell food want the mayor to move the parade back to Sunday.
"There were people who didn't like having it on Sunday as well, so you're never going to please everybody," Copenhaver said.
So we asked the mayor: Can we expect a Sunday parade next year?
"The community as a whole loves it, so after doing it for that many years on that day, I wouldn't see moving it back," he said.
It's a decision retailers are not too happy about.
"Saturday is our biggest day of the week; we work five days a week to get ready for Saturday and the people coming in," Merry said.
We're talking big bucks here. Retailers like State Jewelry of Augusta say they expect to make about one-fifth of what they normally would on a Saturday in December.